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Police dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment at DePaul University in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — Police have begun the takedown a pro-Palestinian camp early Thursday at DePaul University in Chicago, hours after the school’s president told students to leave the area or face arrest.

Officers and workers in yellow vests emptied tents at the student encampment while front loaders removed camping equipment.

Across the street from where the encampment was spread out across a grassy stretch of DePaul’s campus known as “The Quad,” a few dozen protesters stood along a sidewalk outside a gas station, clapping their hands in unison as an apparent protest leader paced and spoke into a bullhorn.

All protesters at the encampment “voluntarily left” the area when police arrived early Thursday, said Jon Hein, chief of patrol for the Chicago Police Department.

“There was neither confrontation nor resistance,” he said during a press briefing.

Hein said two people were arrested outside the camp “for obstructing traffic.” One of those arrested is a current DePaul student and the other is a former student, DePaul President Robert Manuel said in a statement.

The decision to empty the campus comes less than a week after the school president’s decision. declared that public safety was in danger. The university said Saturday it was in an “impasse” with protesters against the school, leaving the future of their encampment uncertain. Most of DePaul’s commencement ceremonies will take place the weekend of June 15-16.

In a statement, Manuel and Provost Salma Ghanem said they believed the students intended to protest peacefully, but that “responses to the encampment have inadvertently created public safety issues that put our community at risk.” .

Efforts to resolve differences with the DePaul Divestment Coalition over the past 17 days have failed, Manuel said in a statement sent to students, faculty and staff Thursday morning.

“I understand that the last 17 days have been stressful for many, not only within our campus, but also for those who live and work in our neighboring community,” Manuel said later Thursday in a statement. “We are saddened that the situation has reached the point where law enforcement intervention was necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone, both inside and outside the camp. »

Students on many college campuses this spring, they set up similar encampments, calling for their schools cut ties with Israel and the companies that support it, to protest Israel’s actions in the war in Gaza.

Separately, 47 people were arrested Wednesday at the University of California, Irvine, university spokesman Tom Vasich said in an email Thursday evening. The school previously announced that 50 people had been arrested.

A few were arrested for trespassing, but the majority were arrested for failing to disperse after a direct order from police, Vasich said.

Chancellor Howard Gillman issued a statement Wednesday saying he considered allowing the peaceful encampment to remain on campus even though it violated university policies, but the school called police after a small group barricaded himself in a campus conference room, supported by a large group. community members gathering outdoors.

He said the group turned what was a manageable situation into one that required police intervention and required overseeing many elements of the university’s operations.

“Most importantly, their attack on the academic freedom rights of our faculty and the free speech rights of faculty and students was appalling,” Gillman said in the statement.

Also Wednesday, 11 members of a group protesting at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville that did not leave the area despite repeated warnings were arrested for trespassing, the university said in a statement. Those arrested included three students and eight people unaffiliated with the university.

“The University of Tennessee respects individual rights to free speech and is committed to governing the campus for all,” the university said in the statement. “We will continue to be guided by the law and university policy, in complete neutrality.”

An independent journalist confirmed Thursday his arrest Wednesday at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque as authorities cleared encampments and arrested seven people, including two students.

Bryant Furlow, a frequent contributor to the nonprofit media outlet New Mexico In Depth, said in a statement that he was arrested along with his wife and photographer Tara Armijo-Prewitt. In the statement released by New Mexico In Depth, Furlow said he and Armijo-Prewitt were charged with criminal trespass and unlawful use of public property and held for 12 hours before being released.

“We always followed the instructions we received from the police and stayed behind the yellow police tape,” Furlow said. “We were arrested while photographing the operation and shortly after asking an NMSP (New Mexico State Police) officer for his badge number and name. While I was being arrested, I repeatedly and loudly said that I was a member of the press.

At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the school’s board of trustees held a regular meeting Thursday, a day after protesters showed up at the homes of certain members of the board of directors.

Sarah Hubbard, president of the university’s board of trustees, said red-stained tents and sheets, meant to resemble body bags containing corpses, were left on her lawn.

“This conduct is where our failure to combat anti-Semitism literally leads – literally – to the front door of my house,” said board member Mark Bernstein. “When and where will this end? As a Jew, I know the answer to these questions because our experience is full of tragedies that we are in grave danger of repeating. Enough is enough.”

Protesters were allowed to maintain an encampment on campus. They want the university to divest itself of investments in Israel-linked companies, even though school officials insist there are no direct investments, only a relatively small amount of money endowment in funds that could be invested there.

The student-led DePaul Divestment Coalition, which calls for the university to disengage from Israel, set up the camp on April 30. The group claims university officials walked away from negotiations and tried to force students to sign an agreement, according to a student statement. late Saturday.

Henna Ayesh, a Palestinian student member of the coalition, called the police’s removal of the camp “shameful” in a statement sent by the group on Thursday.

“It is shameful that DePaul chose violence over giving students the right to protest the funding of our tuition through genocide that directly kills and displaces our families,” Ayesh said.

The Associated Press has recorded at least 80 incidents since April 18 in which arrests took place during protests on campuses across the United States. More than 2,960 people were arrested on the campuses of 60 colleges and universities. The figures are based on AP reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement.

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Associated Press reporter Christopher L. Keller contributed from Albuquerque, New Mexico

News Source : apnews.com
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