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Chicago police dismantle DePaul encampment; school officials say protesters ‘crossed the line’ – NBC Chicago

A pro-Palestinian encampment at DePaul University in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood was dismantled by Chicago police early Thursday morning as school officials released a statement saying the encampment of nearly 20 days had led to “disruption of university operations, interference with student learning, and threats to the safety of individuals and the public.”

“Since the start of the encampment on April 30, the situation has continued to worsen with physical altercations, credible threats of violence from people not associated with our community, incapacitation for other members of our community to participate in the core academic experiences of our campus, and an ever-increasing series of threats against those involved in the encampment and members of our community,” a statement from DePaul President Rob Manual said in part. “From the start of the encampment, I said we would protect free speech and the ability to express dissent until it prevents us from carrying out the operations of our university or threatens the safety of members of our community. I am deeply saddened to say that the encampment has crossed this line.

Manuel’s statement also links to a page with examples of “numerous examples of complaints of discrimination, harassment and violence” received by the university since the encampment was built in April.

“These examples are representative of the more than 1,000 recorded complaints the university has received since the encampment began,” the statement continued, adding that some of the examples contained material that “may be explicit or violent, likely to be harmful or traumatic.

Photos and videos from the scene Thursday showed dozens of Chicago police officers on bikes in front of the DePaul quad. Inside the quad, tents had been dismantled.

NBC 5 reporter Sandra Torres noted that the protesters moved out without incident. You could see and hear them singing from across the block.

“Our Office of Public Safety and Chicago Police are in the process of dismantling the camp,” Manual’s statement said. “Every person currently in the camp will have the opportunity to leave peacefully and without arrest. I urge everyone there to leave peacefully and return home.”

The statement went on to say that the quad and all other green spaces on the Lincoln Park campus would be “closed to everyone, effective immediately.”

“These spaces will remain closed until further notice so that we can begin repairs to the property and resume normal operations,” the release 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.

According to the school, the cost to repair the physical damage to the quad is nearly $180,000.

Over the weekend, DePaul officials said negotiations between school officials and protesters had reached an impasse.

“As noted in previous posts, I believe the Divestment Coalition students started the encampment with the sincere intention of peaceful protest,” Manual’s post from Thursday said. “While their teaching sessions, library, and prayer services on the quad were peaceful in themselves, these good intentions could not outweigh the camp’s attraction to others with nefarious intentions and harmful.”

NBC Chicago

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