33 Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested at George Washington University

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News May 08, 2024

George Washington University (GW)

At least 33 people were arrested during a pro-Palestine protest at George Washington University early Wednesday as police cleared out the encampment students had created on campus.

The Metropolitan Police Department said one person was arrested for assault on a police officer while others for unlawful entry. It is still unknown how many of the arrested are affiliated with the university, Erudera.com reports.

The operation took place hours before the testimony of Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Chief Pamela Smith at Congress for the House Oversight Committee on response to students’ actions.

“A total of 33 arrests were made this morning for charges including unlawful entry, which is often called trespassing in other jurisdictions, and an assault on a police officer,” Smith said at a news conference on Wednesday, May 8.

Smith said the decision to clean the encampment was made after conclusions the demonstration was becoming unstable. After giving multiple warnings to protestors, police arrested those who did not comply with the request to leave the area.

President of George Washington University Ellen Granberg said student encampment raised safety concerns and disrupted the university’s activities.

The university previously said in a statement that although it is committed to protecting students’ right to free speech, the camp they had set up evolved into an illegal activity.

“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,” GWU said.

Since April 18, when the first arrests of pro-Palestinian student protestors were made, over 2,600 people at 50 campuses have been taken into custody while protesting against Israel’s war on Gaza, the Associated Press reported.

The student movement to protest the war in Gaza began at Columbia University in New York City on April 17. That day, student protesters set up an encampment of about 50 tents, demanding the university cut financial ties with Israeli companies connected to Israel’s military.

On April 18, the Ivy League school called the police to intervene and remove protesters, an operation that resulted in over 100 arrests. Few days later, on April 22, the university announced its decision to move classes remotely until tensions de-escalated on campus.

Following these developments, protests popped up at many other campuses, including Yale, the University of California, Emory, and others. Students worldwide have also joined this wave of protests, including those in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Canada, and more.

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