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Chicago police clear DePaul University pro-Palestinian protest encampment on Lincoln Park campus; 2 orders

CHICAGO (WLS) — Chicago police cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment on DePaul University’s Lincoln Park grounds Thursday morning.

Officers in riot gear were seen on the North Side campus just before 6 a.m.

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The camp had been in place for more than two weeks; it started on April 30.

In a letter to faculty, staff and students Thursday morning, DePaul President Robert L. Manuel said, “Despite our good faith efforts to reach a joint resolution with the DePaul Divestment Coalition, we do not we didn’t succeed. »

He said that since the encampment began, “the situation has continued to worsen with physical altercations, credible threats of violence from people not associated with our community, incapacity for other members of our community to participate in core academic experiences on our campus, and an ever-increasing series of threats against those involved in the encampment and members of our community.”

The letter indicated that those present in the camp had been given the opportunity to leave peacefully, without being arrested.

“I urge everyone who is there to leave peacefully and return home,” Manuel said.

Police appeared to quickly evacuate the site and protesters marched down Fullerton Avenue. No physical confrontations could be observed, but some demonstrators claimed that the police had forcibly removed them.

Chicago police held a news conference around 7:45 a.m., saying there had been no confrontation, but two people had been arrested.

Chicago police provided an update after the DePaul encampment was emptied.

A man and woman, ages 21 and 25, were arrested for obstructing traffic on Belden Avenue, police and DePaul said.

Protesters moved into the neighborhood after being evacuated from the quad, and police blocked some roads in the neighborhood.

DePaul’s president said that during the encampment, protesters vandalized university buildings, causing nearly $180,000 in damage.

DePaul’s quad and all other green spaces on the school’s Lincoln Park campus will be closed to everyone while repairs are made, the president said.

“Anyone attempting to cross the fence around the quad or any of the green spaces on the Lincoln Park campus will be trespassed, arrested and suspended. DePaul will continue to investigate every complaint of harassment or discrimination we receive resulting from the encampment. or subsequent events,” he said.

The school said classes would go ahead as scheduled on Thursday.

The school had given the protesters until midday Sunday to remove the encampment, but they remained until Thursday.

Students told ABC7 Chicago that they were preparing and making plans in case the university attempted to forcibly clear the camp itself.

DePaul’s was one of the last anti-war encampments in the Chicago area. Throughout the past month, college campuses across the country have been the scene of large-scale protests.

“It is shameful that DePaul chose to abruptly and violently engage in an early morning raid on students, without warning. I condemn their use of force rather than engage in dialogue with students. I am proud that students be the voice of reason,” Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez said in a statement.

There was a student walkout at DePaul University on Wednesday after camp students and the administration reached an impasse over demands for divestment from Israel.

Around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, there was a large group of protesters and their supporters in the center of the quad, listening to speakers and chanting rallying cries, in what had been overall a noisy but peaceful gathering.

Camp organizers said they had mobilized a 3 p.m. walkout among students and faculty; however, it was not immediately clear how many of them actually left the class.

The rally was a show of solidarity with protesters who have been camping out for more than two weeks, calling on the university to divest from companies that benefit Israel.

LEARN MORE: DePaul’s pro-Palestinian encampment reaches two-week mark as protesters refuse to leave quad

DePaul’s president said he respected students’ rights to protest, but said the encampment had attracted counterprotesters, leading to safety concerns. DePaul said talks with protesters reached an impasse a few days ago, prompting the university to cancel a planned music festival to be held in the quad on Friday.

Encampment organizers said they were ready to continue talking.

RELATED: Protesters reject DePaul University’s request to leave camp as negotiations ‘at an impasse’

“We invited them a few days ago to another negotiation meeting where they didn’t show up. They didn’t even offer us an email explaining why they couldn’t. So, yeah, we’re still willing to negotiate. We’re still there, we’re always going to be willing to negotiate,” said Henna Ayesh of the DePaul Divestment Coalition.

Protest organizers said they chose Wednesday for the strike, in part because many Palestinians mark the date as the start of displacement after Israel’s Independence Day, May 14, 1948.

Alderman Timmy Knudsen, who represents the 43rd Ward, released a statement Thursday saying:

“This morning, CPD and DePaul University Campus Security took action to remove the DePaul encampment. We are in contact with university leadership and city officials and will keep residents informed as they become available. as we learn more about next steps for the region.

“Please click here for a detailed explanation from DePaul.

“As the conflict in the Middle East continues, we will continue to advocate for the city to balance its commitment to upholding First Amendment rights to protest, while ensuring the safety of our neighborhoods.”

The Rev. Michael Pfleger also released a statement saying, “Very disappointed in DePaul University for asking CPD to close the camp this morning, Bishop Jack Egan would be ashamed of you. Demanding divestment from Israel due to the apartheid taking place in Gaza is a good thing. our very Catholic roots. And the DNA OF OUR FAITH. A sad day for DePaul University.

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News Source : abc7chicago.com
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