Dozens arrested as police clear pro-Palestinian encampment at US university

Police cleared a pro-Palestinian tent encampment at George Washington University and arrested demonstrators, hours after dozens marched to the home of the school’s president as city officials prepared to appear before Congress on the protest’s handling.

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith were called to give evidence on Wednesday afternoon at the Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, but the hearing was cancelled after the arrests.

Tensions have ratcheted up in standoffs with protesters of the Israel-Hamas war on campuses across the US, and increasingly in Europe.

Some universities have cracked down immediately while others have tolerated the demonstrations.

Some sites have begun to lose patience and call in police over concerns about disruptions to campus life and safety.

District of Columbia police said officers moved to disperse demonstrators because “there has been a gradual escalation in the volatility of the protest”.

It said 33 arrests were made, including for assault on a police officer and unlawful entry.

Some protesters were pepper sprayed as police blocked them from the camp.

George Washington University had warned of possible suspensions for continuing the camp on University Yard.

Protesters carrying signs that read, “Free Palestine” and “Hands off Rafah,” also marched to school president Ellen Granberg’s home on Tuesday night.

“While the university is committed to protecting students’ rights to free expression, the encampment had evolved into an unlawful activity, with participants in direct violation of multiple university policies and city regulations,” a school statement said.

Since April 18th, just over 2,600 people have been arrested on 50 campuses – figures based on AP reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies after the latest anti-war movement was launched by a protest at Columbia University.

A pro-Palestinian tent encampment was cleared by officers in riot gear at the University of Chicago on Tuesday after administrators who had initially adopted a permissive approach said they had crossed a line, increasing safety concerns.

Hundreds of protesters had gathered for at least eight days until administrators warned them on Friday to leave or face removal.

Officers later picked up a barricade erected to keep protesters out of the Quad and moved it toward the demonstrators, some of whom chanted, “Up, up with liberation. Down, down with occupation!”

Police and protesters pushed back and forth along the barricade as the officers moved to re-establish control.

“The university remains a place where dissenting voices have many avenues to express themselves, but we cannot enable an environment where the expression of some dominates and disrupts the healthy functioning of the community for the rest,” University of Chicago president Paul Alivisatos wrote.


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