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Palestinian Campus Protests: Police Arrest 33 at George Washington University Encampment

Palestinian Campus Protests

Washington — The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department cleared a pro-Palestinian protest camp at George Washington University, resulting in 33 arrests for assault on an officer and trespassing. A congressional hearing on college protest encampments was canceled, leading to condemnation from parents, faculty, and staff over the handling of the protests by police and school leaders.

The use of heavily armed officers and pepper spray on student protesters was criticized by the university community, with calls for the resignation of the university president for refusing to negotiate. Nationwide protests at universities in support of Palestine and calls for divestment from companies with ties to Israel have led to over 2600 arrests as tensions escalate in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza following a terrorist attack by Hamas.

Key Concepts

  • Pro-Palestinian protest camp cleared at George Washington University, leading to arrests.
  • Congressional hearing on college protest encampments canceled.
  • Police accused of excessive force against student protesters.
  • University community criticizes use of heavily armed police officers and pepper spray.
  • Administrators warn of potential suspension for protesting on campus.
  • Nationwide campus protests supporting Palestinian cause and calling for divestment from companies tied to Israel.
  • Israel’s offensive in Gaza prompted by a terrorist attack by Hamas.
  • High number of Palestinian casualties reported in Gaza.

Earlier on Wednesday (May 8), police in Washington, the US capital, cleared a pro-Palestinian protesters camp at George Washington University and arrested 33 people, authorities said.

The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department said the arrests stemmed from an assault on an officer and trespassing.

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A congressional committee canceled a hearing on college protest encampments Wednesday. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Chief Pamela Smith were scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability about the city’s response to the Testify on the handling of protests.

George Washington University parents, faculty, and staff gathered for a news conference Wednesday afternoon to condemn the handling of protests by police and school leaders.

Hala Amer said: “This university clearly has no regard for its students and has endangered the safety of our children by sending heavily armed police officers to attack them and pepper-spray their eyes.” His son participated in these campus protests.

Police said they dispersed the demonstrators as “the protests became increasingly volatile.”

Barbara Wien, a professor at American University, said she lives in the camp with students from George Washington University. She described the student protesters as democratic and peaceful.

Police began closing the tent encampments Tuesday night after dozens of protesters marched to the on-campus home of George Washington University President Ellen Granberg. Police were called, but no arrests were made.

Speakers at the news conference called on Granberg to resign because they claimed she refused to meet and negotiate with student protesters.

“You continue to incite violence and ignore students,” Amell said of Granberg in an interview with Voice of America (VOA) after the meeting. “This will only lead to more violence. You need to talk to your students.”

George Washington University administrators are warning students they could be suspended for protesting in the school’s University Yard, an outdoor space on campus.

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“While the university is committed to protecting students’ rights to free speech, the camp has evolved into an illegal activity in which participants directly violated multiple university policies and city regulations,” a statement from George Washington University said.

According to the Associated Press (AP), more than 2,600 people have been arrested at universities across the country for supporting Palestinian protests.

Students are calling on university administrations to divest from companies in Israel or with ties to Israel. Demonstrators have gathered on at least 50 campuses since April 17, holding signs that read “Free Palestine” and “Free Rafah.”

Rafah is Gaza’s southernmost city, where most of the region’s population is concentrated. The area also serves as a corridor for humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territories.

Israel seized the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing on Tuesday while closing the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing, drawing criticism from humanitarian groups. Israel said on Wednesday it had reopened Kerem Shalom.

Nationwide campus protests are in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Hamas previously launched a terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive. Israel has warned it could “deepen” operations in Rafah if negotiations fail to secure the release of the hostages.

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