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Live coverage: Pro-Palestinian encampment’s second day of protest stretches into night

Lexi Critchett | Staff Photographer

Editor’s note: This article contains The Hatchet’s live updates of day two of the pro-Palestinian encampment in University Yard. For updated coverage of day three, read here.

A pro-Palestinian encampment nears the end of its second day in University Yard Friday, as more than 200 protesters rally outside the barricaded encampment and about a dozen organizers remain inside the space, despite some facing suspension. 

Hundreds of protesters gathered Thursday to raise tents in U-Yard and demand GW to divest from companies with ties to Israel, drop alleged charges against pro-Palestinian student organizers and disclose its investments and endowments. Demonstrators sustained their presence in U-Yard far past the 7 p.m. Thursday deadline set by officials for protesters to clear the encampment, but have yet to face direct pressure from police to vacate the area. 

Organizers said Friday that GW has suspended seven protesters, each charged with nine misconduct violations. After officials barricaded U-Yard early Friday, restricting entry in and out of the space, between 200 and 250 protesters have rallied on H Street, some beginning to pitch tents. GW reportedly asked the Metropolitan Police Department to clear the encampment Friday morning, a request police refused, according to the Washington Post.

The protest comes in a string of pro-Palestinian encampments at more than a dozen college campuses nationwide this month, following the arrests of more than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters at a Columbia University last week. GW is the latest to join the wave of students across the country in demanding universities separate themselves from companies supporting Israel’s military offensives against Gaza.

Chapters from GW, American University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Gallaudet University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County joined the DMV Coalition of Students for Justice in Palestine to host the encampment.

Follow along below:

Kaiden J. Yu | Staff Photographer

Update: 4:58 a.m.

Police presence has remained consistent throughout the night — a handful of GWPD and MPD vehicles block H Street, which still holds about 20 tents and at least 40 people.

It’s about 5 a.m., the approximate time protesters first set up the encampment Thursday morning.

Two GWPD officers approached a tent in the U-Yard encampment at about 4:30 a.m. because one officer said he saw an individual cross the northeast corner barricade and enter a tent. The officers asked two demonstrators in the tent to show their GWorld cards, which they both supplied, and the officers appeared to let them off with a warning.

Updated: 2:36 a.m. — Settling into H Street

Just before 2 a.m. on Saturday, organizers played recorded messages from people in Gaza officiated with the nonprofit writing workshop We Are not Numbers. The messages included descriptions of the conditions in Gaza and expressions of gratitude toward the students. 

“You are our voice out there, and we can not end this war, or return our rightful rights without your help. We see you, and we are proud of every one of you,” a university student from Gaza said in a recording. 

After a final chant following the messages, organizers told protesters to “get some rest” for the remainder of the night. Attendees have begun to quiet down and settle into tents. There are more than 100 protesters left on H Street, and the size of the encampment has nearly doubled as it nears the 48-hour mark. 

Updated: 1:49 a.m. — Organizers ask demonstrators to remain overnight

A 12:24 a.m. message in the organizer’s Telegram requests presence on H Street from now until sunrise. The message states that organizers will lead a “night of resistance and programming” until 5 a.m., when the encampment protest reaches its 48th hour. 

Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer

Updated: 1:39 a.m. — Protesters hang banner

Protesters hung a banner reading “liberated zone solidarity camp” in paint from two trees near 20th Street. 

One protester from the encampment left U-Yard around 1:30 a.m. through the southwest corner, voluntarily escorted by a GWPD officer.

Updated: 1:25 a.m. — Some exit encampment, hop barricade

At least two individuals hopped the barricade, exiting the encampment to join the demonstrators on H Street. Five people are crowding the barricade to prevent others from seeing them leave. 

Updated: 1:08 a.m. — Scene from encampment

Despite the commotion on H Street on the other side of the metal barricade, inside the encampment, it’s quieter. The doors to most of the tents are zipped shut, with some sleeping demonstrators likely inside. One tent has two pairs of shoes resting on the plastic doormat. 

A few of the people still here, some unaffiliated with GW, talk amongst each other in small groups. A few in yellow vests are on watch, pacing around the borders of the encampment. Some are having soft conversations with demonstrators outside of the barricade. 

At about 12:55 p.m. a GWPD officer grabbed a metal chair from the outdoor patio on the east side of the buildings surrounding U-Yard and brought it to his fellow officer guarding U-Yard’s northeast entrance. The guard accepted the chair, taking a seat. The three campus officers stationed in U-Yard at 1 a.m. may be here the rest of the night. 

Updated: 1:05 a.m. — Music continues to echo on H Street

Songs like “Wil” by Sofia Sanki and “Moqawem” by Julia Botros reverberated through the U-Yard and its surrounding streets while some demonstrators sat chatting and others continued to pitch tents in H Street. By this time last night, demonstrators had gone to bed. 

An unmarked police car sits across from the Media & Public Affairs building. One marked GWPD car inched closer to demonstrators from the 21st and H Street intersection. One MPD car left the scene, leaving three MPD units.

“Cops off our campus now” is written in chalk in front of units near 21st Street. 

James Schaap | Staff Photographer

Updated: 12:42 a.m. — Crowd thins

The crowd of protesters has thinned, shrinking from about 200 demonstrators before midnight to about 100. MPD cars linger, with four units on the intersection of 20th and H streets and three cars on the 21st and H Street intersection continue to flash their lights. 

The number of tents in H Street outside of U-Yard continues to grow. At 12:34 a.m., there were 13 tents, many of which didn’t have stakes in the ground. 

One organizer encouraged demonstrators to sleep in the H Street tents, with organizers adding new tents to the street every few minutes. People brought brand new blankets from Target to the group.

Updated: 12:28 a.m. — Painting sheets

Demonstrators formed a circle near the north-central entrance to U-Yard. About 14 organizers are painting on what appears to be white sheets. On one sheet, organizers painted “Liberation zone solidarity camp.”

Other demonstrators are seated on blankets eating and drinking. Dozens of attendees danced while others handed out keffiyehs from a table on the chalk-covered swaths of H Street and its sidewalks. 

Demonstrators also pitched one additional tent in the street.

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated: 12:16 a.m. — Suspended student speaks to crowd

An encampment organizer addressed the crowd on H Street using a microphone, telling protesters that he had been suspended, pending proceedings. 

“What is a suspension? What is a suspension in relation to what we have watched so many people suffer in recent months?” the student said. “What is a suspension in relation to what my grandparents experienced at the hands of occupation forces 50 years ago?”

As the encampment protest reaches its 43rd hour, the speaker encouraged the crowd to stay where they are.

“We will be here, I will be here, will you be here?” he asked. “Are you leaving?”

The crowd responded with a loud “No!”

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated: 12:05 a.m. — More tents

About seven organizers are setting up five more tents on H Street, bringing the total number of pitched tents outside of the U-Yard to 10. Demonstrators have brought in a white screen, which appears to be a projector screen, and have weighed it down with rocks on the 21st side of H Street. Organizers are clearing a space in front of the screen. 

Protesters are chanting “We’re not leaving” as the pro-Palestinian demonstration reaches its 43rd hour. 

Updated: 11:30 p.m. — Meal distribution

Protesters have been passing out plates of food, some of which has been donated by local Arab American restaurants. Bottled water and snacks donated by the community has also been passed out, and some protesters have moved to the side to eat.

Lexi Critchett | Staff Photographer

Updated: 11:21 p.m. — Protesters pitch tent in street

About 20 demonstrators are pitching four tents in the middle of H Street between 20th and 21st Streets. Three MPD cars continue to block off H Street in the area in front of the U-Yard encampment. Three tents in bags and eight sleeping bags are also on the street.

Updated: 10:50 p.m. — Protest drills into night

As it stretches later into the night, between 200 to 250 demonstrators are trickling in and out of the H Street protest, which has maintained the same volume for well over an hour now. The protest has kept up its tempo, with the sounds of drums, calls and chants bouncing back and forth down the street.

Compared to 11 p.m. Thursday night, protesters have exponentially grown in volume. At 10:43 p.m. on Thursday, the encampment was calm. Friday night, the protest is just as loud as it was five hours ago. And protesters do not appear to have plans to stop anytime soon.

Updated: 9:55 p.m. — H Street protests echo into U-Yard 

Protesters sang in unison, with some waving flags and raising their phone flashlights. They chanted in unison, “I believe we will win,” as students inside the encampment banged drums.

The volume of the protest increased as protesters shouted, “Shut it down.”

Demonstrators are casting their arms in the air and clapping as they chant. Some are banging pots and pans.

At about 10 p.m., there was one MPD van and one car on H and 21st streets, with the car blocking off traffic. There were two cars on H and 20th streets, all flashing lights.

Updated: 9:40 p.m. — Shabbat dinner

Jewish Voice for Peace began hosting a Shabbat dinner for protesters outside the U-Yard encampment at approximately 8:30 p.m. 

The JVP organizer said he was one of the seven students who officials suspended.

“I stand before you today as one of many students suspended for being a part of this action, and I say that I, a Jewish student, am proud to be suspended,” the organizer said.

The organizer lit two candles as part of Shabbat. 

Protesters began singing the blessing in Hebrew. The organizer offered wine, apples and matzo, which he said were compliant under the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, to participants.

Another organizer blessed the matzo. 

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated: 9:14 p.m. — Milken dean issues statement on “unauthorized communication” about demonstrations

Milken Institute School of Public Health Dean Lynn Goldman said a former faculty member used a “legacy, community-wide” email listserv to distribute “unauthorized communication” about campus demonstrations in an email to the Milken community Friday afternoon.

Goldman said the faculty member distributed a communication about “the demonstrations,” but did not specify if the email referred to the pro-Palestinian encampment in U-Yard, other demonstrations at GW or those at other universities. She said the message “caused harm” to community members and does not reflect the opinions of GW’s leadership or Milken.

She began her email, which was sent at 4:35 p.m., by referencing an “uptick in demonstrations” at universities across the country and reaffirmed faculty, student and staff’s right to engage in peaceful protest.

“We have taken steps to rectify the situation, remove this person’s access to this listserve and ensure that such an incident does not occur again,” the email reads.

She said the school encourages its community members to use channels run through Milken’s communications team that ensure distributed messages are “appropriate and thoughtful” and avoid “potential harm” caused by an unauthorized mass email. 

“Such emails can spread misinformation or cause intended distress,” the email reads. “Our goal is to maintain a respectful and informed community dialogue.”

Updated: 8:23 p.m. – Seven protesters suspended from GW, charged with nine counts of misconduct each

Student protesters said at their rally Friday that officials suspended seven students from GW immediately. 

“The administration announced readily to seven students that they are suspended, effective immediately,” said a speaker at Friday’s rally. “They each have nine counts of misconduct.” 

“Is this what safety looks like?” the speaker asked more than 300 gathered demonstrators. “No,” the crowd shouted back. 

An Instagram post by the Student Coalition for Palestine at GWU Friday evening stated officials suspended the seven student organizers and charged each with nine disciplinary violations. The post said the students actively face eviction from their campus housing. 

“Administrators are actively working to punish students for speaking up against the oppression of Palestinians,” the post reads. “We demand GW admin drops all the charges and unsuspends all students immediately.”

A University spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

A post on the Student Coalition for Palestine at GWU’s Instagram Friday said officials told students participating in the protest would put them at risk of facing interim suspension unless they cleared the encampment by 1 p.m. The post said student demonstrators would risk losing their housing, credits for the semester and being arrested. 

The University issued a statement this afternoon that officials had informed demonstrators their occupation and conduct in U-Yard “have been and continue to be” in violation of University policies. They said the encampment’s presence in U-Yard is considered trespassing.

About 40 students left the encampment throughout the day Friday, and will likely face no punishment for the demonstration. About a dozen students remain in the encampment Friday evening, many of whom are likely part of the seven students suspended. 

Student protesters in the encampment did not immediately comment for this story.

Updated: 7:50 p.m. – MPD declined GW officials’ request to clear encampment, Washington Post reports

MPD rejected requests from GW officials to clear protesters from their encampment in U-Yard early Friday morning, the Washington Post reported Friday afternoon.

The Post reported that police had gathered to clear the encampment around 3 a.m., about the same time organizers alarmed encampment attendees that arrests were coming. Around that time Friday morning, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Brian Joyce told The Hatchet he “thinks” MPD officers were on their way.

Senior D.C. officials in the Mayor’s office and MPD reportedly declined GW’s requests to clear the encampment, citing concerns over the “optics” of moving against peaceful protesters, the Post reported.

MPD has no current plans to clear the encampment, the Post reported, but that could change if the protests grow hostile. On Friday, the protest has remained peaceful as students have trickled out of the encampment.

Multiple University spokespeople did not immediately return requests for comment.

Updated: 7:48 p.m. – Energy, noise grows from rally outside encampment

The energy at the rally at the protest has significantly grown over the past 20 minutes. Students bash drums as chants from the speakers reach their loudest point of the day. More than 300 students are gathered on H Street.

“Up, up with liberation, down, down with occupation,” students yelled.

“Freedom, freedom, freedom all,” the yells echoed.

Updated: 7:46 p.m. – Truck condemning Israel, U.S. parks on campus

A truck displaying messages condemning Israel and U.S. policy in Gaza arrived on campus at 21st and H Streets in front of Lisner Auditorium at approximately 6:32 p.m. with slogans like “Genocide Joe, how many kids have you starved today” and “Ceasefire now.” The truck also had images of children killed in Gaza, including 10-year-old Yazan Kafarneh, who died of starvation in March. A QR code on the truck leads to If Americans Knew, a non-profit organization focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the organization’s website

Prior provocative trucks on campus this year have targeted pro-Palestinian students and faculty. A “doxing truck” parked outside the Elliott School of International Affairs in November during the Student Coalition for Palestine’s sit-in inside the building, displaying the names and faces of pro-Palestinian students. The “doxing truck” also showed the names and faces of students at schools like Columbia and Harvard. 

A truck displaying the names and faces of pro-Palestinian GW faculty circled campus in December.

Tom Rath | Staff Photographer

Updated: 7:28 p.m. – RHA President condemns officials’ suspension threat

Vero Famadas, the outgoing president of the Residence Hall Association, issued a statement at around 3 p.m. on Thursday condemning the University officials’ threats of suspension against students protesting in the encampment. They said threatening to remove students from GW housing, which would also restrict access to University meal plans, puts students at risk of homelessness and food insecurity.

They said RHA “strongly urges” University President Ellen Granberg and other University officials against suspending students for peaceful protests.

“When students rely solely on the University for housing and food, taking such drastic measures, without due process is abhorrent and represents an abdication of the University’s responsibility to protect its students,” Famadas said in the statement. 

Officials did not immediately return a request for comment about details of the threatened suspension.

Updated: 7:14 p.m. – Post urges D.C. community to flood officials with emails in support of protesters

Organizers posted a community call to action on the D.C. Student Encampment for Gaza message board on Telegram, encouraging people to flood administrators with emails Friday night. The post says GW students are calling for a meeting with administrators to discuss their demands.

“The administration has the time to send continuous threats of interim suspensions and to clear out our encampment, but they haven’t made the time to sit down with us and discuss how they will listen to our message,” the post reads.

The post lists the protestor’s five demands: 

  • Officials must drop disciplinary charges against pro-Palestinian student organizers
  • GW must protect pro-Palestinian speech on campus
  • GW must divest from companies selling technology and weapons to “the zionist regime”
  • GW must immediately disclose all endowments and investments.
  • GW must end all academic partnerships with Israel

Organizers urge students to email and call administrators — linking a document with contacts for the Student Rights and Responsibilities; Division for Student Affairs; Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement; MSSC; Office of Ethics, Compliance, and Risk; Communications and Marketing; SGA, Office of Advocacy and Support and General Counsel — to demand a meeting. The document includes both email and phone call templates.

Updated: 7:04 p.m. – Student organization fundraiser will donate to encampments

As the encampment enters its 37th hour, the South Asian Society is tabling in Square 80 to donate proceeds from its annual night market to pro-Palestinian encampments, like the one at GW. 

Khushi Palan, the president of SAS, said the organization decided to donate to encampments yesterday after students started protesting in University Yard. Palan said SAS will donate to the GW encampment following the fundraiser and plans to give leftover food from the event to the protesters.

“We have jewelry, clothes, gift baskets, mehndi, food, totes,” Palan said. “We’re giving the donations to the encampments.”

Updated: 6:35 p.m. – More students arrive to protest outside of encampment

Demonstrators sit in a circle eating and listening to songs like “Long Live Palestine” by Lowkey, a British rapper and activist, and “Jnoud” by TheLock, an artist based in the occupied West Bank. Additional protesters continue to trickle in and join the crowd of more than 250 people. 

Organizers called for students to come out in support of the encampment in an Instagram post earlier Friday.  

Updated: 6:05 p.m. – Student speakers 

Around 4:15 p.m., protesters sat side to side in the streets to listen to speeches from several demonstrators, none of whom gave their names, likely for fear of retaliation. 

A New York University student spoke at the rally and said NYU officials refused to talk to students about divesting from Israel. She said the New York Police Department’s sweep of their encampment illustrates the government’s bias against pro-Palestine demonstrations.

“I want to commend all of you for standing here because the universities are afraid,” she said.

Another speaker, who said he participated in a student demonstration at Columbia University during the Vietnam War, said student demonstrations nationwide are a “powerful weapon” for change. He called for an immediate cease-fire in the war in Gaza and for U.S. officials to halt military aid to Israel.

“For 60 years I’ve been working to get rid of capitalism,” the speaker said. “The only solution to the Palestinian question is the end of capitalism in the Middle East.” 

A speaker who described herself as a Black abolitionist asked onlookers to help her perform a song she wrote. 

“I want this to be very clear, I didn’t write this song. Every single one of you helped me write this,” she told the crowd. 

The crowd clapped along to the beat while she sang. 

A Jewish student from the University of Maryland said when he was a kid, he was taught to believe that he was supposed to “stand for” Israel.

“When they commit war crime after war crime, and atrocity after atrocity, you know what they say? They have the nerve to say it’s for me,” he said.

About two hours after the speakers finished, more students are joining the demonstration in U-Yard, listening to the music.

Updated: 5:55 p.m. – A pause for prayer

At around 5:18 p.m. organizers called for an intermission in speeches and unfurled prayer rugs for the afternoon Asr prayer.

Around 50 people across seven rows gathered and prayed. Other demonstrators formed a perimeter on all four sides of the worshippers. Demonstrators also unfurled a large Palestine flag on the perimeter and held it facing the SMPA building, where a student stands waving an Israel flag.

Tom Rath | Staff Photographer

Updated: 5:42 p.m. — 36 hours into the encampment 

About 30 tents sit empty on the northern half of University Yard. Barring a few slouching in the wind towards a ground littered with empty plastic water bottles and articles of clothing. 

Since this morning, dozens of students have left the encampment, and the number of demonstrators still here sits at about a dozen. There are about 200 rallying outside of the U-Yard barricade. 

At about 5:20 p.m., demonstrators still in the encampment started to pick up some of the leftover trash and belongings. One person dumped an unfinished drink into a bush, others brought out trash bags to fill with litter. 

Four tents are turned on their sides and two are completely flattened, their stakes coming out of the ground, with a few metal rods standing upright, detached from a tent. One large green tent is tied down by three cases of plastic water bottles and two-gallon paint bottles. Some of the tents have abandoned sleeping bags and other supplies. 

Most of the intact tents remained largely vacant for the duration of the afternoon, with demonstrators electing to congregate in small groups on the grass and against the fence lining the H Street sidewalk. There are two prayer mats on the western half of U-Yard. 

The supply canopy on the western side of the encampment is stocked with more than a dozen gallons of water, nearly empty communal trays of rice, and four to-go coffee boxes. 

Rolls of toilet paper sit outside the tent-bucket bathroom. Several demonstrators have used the facility.  

Outside of one of the tents a deck of Uno cards is strewn across the entrance with a cardboard “Free Palestine” sign obstructing the opening and felt blankets padding the ground.

Kaiden J. Yu | Staff Photographer

Updated: 5:18 p.m. — Coalition calls for student turnout, support

The DMV Coalition of Students in Justice for Palestine called for community support in a 4 p.m. Instagram post. The post asks community members to join the protest at 6 p.m. outside U-Yard, stating the encampment has lasted more than 36 hours because of unity among GW students and other community members. 

Updated: 5:15 p.m. — Guarding the way in

The five outdoor exits to U-Yard are being guarded by GW Police Department officers, who are taking shifts on duty, swapping with another officer every few hours. In Samson, Bell, Lisner, Stuart, Stockton and Corcoran halls, the academic building entrances into U-Yard, security staff are guarding the doors. Students who do enter the academic buildings, maybe for class or to study, have been yelled at and questioned by the guards as to why they’re there.

While the GWPD officers stationed at the northern entrances to U-Yard are watching the protesters on H Street, some officers and security at the other, less busy entrances are scrolling on their phones.

Updated: 4:42 p.m. — Nearly 200 rally outside of encampment barricade

The number of pro-Palestinian demonstrators has swelled from around 100 people at about 1 p.m. to nearly 200 as of 4:40 p.m. For about half an hour, the crowd size has remained steady. Most attendees are sitting tightly packed around the speakers at the central entrance to U-Yard. 

Attendees include students from GW and other schools around the D.C. area as well as members of the public who are here in support of the protest. TV cameras are set up on the opposite side of H Street.

Updated: 4:18 p.m. — Dozens of GW faculty demand officials protect free speech, protest

More than 100 faculty and staff from half a dozen universities across the D.C., Maryland and Virginia regions signed a letter in support of the pro-Palestinian encampment in U-Yard and student protests.

The letter, signed by 54 GW faculty, calls on local universities’ boards of trustees and presidents to protect freedom of expression and protest on college campuses and “reject all pressures” to criminalize encampments and demonstrations. The letter states that GW would “fail in their most basic promises” of allowing open speech if the University continues to “repress, arrest, suspend, and stifle” student demonstrators.

“We condemn any move by GW to shut down student gatherings and restrict access rather than open spaces,” the letter reads.

Organizers on H street told crowd members about the faculty support in the letter at about 3:40 p.m., leading to cheers and applause from the crowd. 

The letter states that officials violate GW’s moniker, the Revolutionaries, and its Code of Student Conduct when they don’t commit to free speech and expression. 

“The students engaging in protests today are upholding and strengthening the proud tradition of protest, dissent, and free speech,” the letter reads. “Should the current administration choose to stand in their way, it will be on the wrong side of history.”

Kaiden J. Yu | Staff Photographer

Updated: 4:11 p.m. — Another message from Gaza

Organizers read another message from a student in Gaza in front of a crowd of protesters rallying outside the barrier to the encampment. Demonstrators read messages from students in Gaza on Thursday as well.

“Never stop. You are our only hope left after everyone has failed us,” Friday’s message states.

Updated: 4:00 p.m. — MPD lieutenant enters U-Yard

MPD Lieutenant Matthe Mahl entered the encampment from the northwest barricade at about 3:50, greeting GW Police Department Chief James Tate. The two shook hands and then smiled and talked as Tate walked him through U-Yard. Mahl walked into Samson Hall and back out into U-Yard shortly after. Then, unaccompanied, he exited the park. It appears to be the first time an MPD officer has entered U-Yard since the encampment began Thursday morning.

Updated: 3:48 p.m. — Birds pick at leftovers 

With much of the encampment now abandoned, a few birds are picking at food and other scraps left behind by the demonstrators.

Updated: 3:38 p.m. — Legal fund works with demonstrators

Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild joined the encampment Thursday and lingered toward the crowd’s edge Friday afternoon, documenting police interactions with protesters. Students have regularly interacted with GWPD officers, and MPD officers have stood by watching the protest. 

Some organizers have also met with guild members, visible by their lime green hats, throughout Friday as GWPD presence in the encampment grows.  

A legal observer said they were not allowed to engage in a conversation while working. The Hatchet contacted The Guild’s national office but has not heard back. 

The Guild’s Mass Defense and Legal Observer program has provided legal support for social justice movements for 50 years and were present at civil rights protests in the 1960s and anti-Vietnam war protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to The Guild’s website. The Guild’s legal observers were arrested at Columbia University last week while documenting demonstrator interactions with law enforcement, according to a NLG statement.

Updated: 3:06 p.m. —  GWPD officer presence increases in U-Yard, encampment

In U-Yard, as demonstrators have filtered out of the encampment, GWPD officers and security staff have increasingly been patrolling the center of U-Yard even walking through the encampment. With less demonstrators here, officers appear more comfortable walking around the demonstration with several now taking interval walks through the plaza, despite staying to the periphery of much of the encampment. 

Updated: 2:55 p.m. — Art installations project pro-Palestinian messages in and out of encampment

The GW encampment has featured art installations like poems and chalk messages to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. 

At the now-fenced-off entrance to the encampment, organizers wrote “Liberated Camp” in green and orange and blue and pink chalk. 

On one tent, demonstrators draped paper kites that string together a poem: “If I must die you MUST Live … to tell my story to sell my things … so that a child somewhere in Gaza while looking … heaven in the eye awaiting his dad who left in a blaze … and bid no one farewell not event his flesh … not even to himself sees the kite my kite you made … flying up above and thinks for a moment … an angel is there bringing back LOVE …” 

On Friday, demonstrators drew messages in chalk on the sidewalk outside the encampment: “Free Palestine” in green and red; “From Punjab to Palestine” with a red heart; “AU alum proud of these students”; and one written in Arabic with blue chalk reads “Free Palestine.” One demonstrator etched a chalk picture of a watermelon into the brick walkway – a symbol that stands for solidarity for the Palestinian people because of its symbolism of protest against Israel. 

Other students spent Thursday afternoon drawing flowers and watermelons with the red, green and black colors of the flag onto their posters. 

Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer

Updated: 2:47 p.m. — Officials double down on students “trespassing” in U-Yard encampment 

The University issued a statement this afternoon that officials had informed demonstrators their occupation and conduct in U-Yard “have been and continue to be” in violation of University policies. They said the encampment’s presence in U-Yard is considered trespassing.

The Student Coalition for Palestine said in an Instagram post this afternoon that officials told students participating in the demonstration would put them at risk of facing interim suspension unless they cleared the area by 1 p.m. As of 2:45 p.m., about a dozen demonstrators are still in U-Yard. The post states students would risk losing housing, class credits for this semester and being arrested for participating in the encampment. 

The Student Code of Conduct permits students to organize petitions and demonstrations as long as they are not disruptive to “normal university functions,” but prohibits the “physical takeover or occupation” of University spaces and facilities, even if the space is not in use at the time.

The code also prohibits demonstrations that disrupt teaching, research, administration or conduct procedures. Three GW Law School final exams were scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and were moved to undisclosed locations due to noise concerns. 

The University said any student who chooses to remain in U-Yard may be placed on temporary suspension and administratively barred from campus. 

Updated: 2:18 p.m. — ‘Final Solution’ sign draws backlash online

A post on X went viral Thursday afternoon with a picture of a man in U-Yard holding a sign that reads “Final Solution” accompanied by Israeli and Palestinian flags. The Nazi regime used the phrase to describe their genocide of the Jewish people during the Holocaust. 

The man in the photo, who was also photographed by the New York Times during the protest, does not appear to be a student at GW. He was one of the hundreds of people who attended the protest at GW’s campus on Thursday, dozens of whom were members of the public who brought homemade signs with them. The Hatchet was unable to confirm who the man in the photo is. 

The New York Post published an article Friday on the sign and the viral post on X, formerly Twitter. The article has received lots of attention on the platform as well. The Post cited instances of users calling the sign antisemitic and expressing shock that the phrase was invoked so publicly. 

“A despicable anti-Israeli protester has sparked horror after being photographed at George Washington University with a sign calling for the ‘final solution,’ the Nazi plan to exterminate all Jews,” the article states.

Updated: 2:13 p.m. — More demonstrators leave encampment

Two more protesters left the confines of the encampment at about 2:10 p.m., bringing the total remaining to about a dozen.

Updated: 1:49 p.m. — Counterprotesters interrupt Jummah prayer preparation

At around 1:12 p.m., student organizers began laying prayer mats on top of blue tarps on H Street to prepare Jummah prayer.

After organizers set down the tarps, to allow observers to participate in the Jummah prayer, three counterprotesters, including two students holding an Israeli and American flag walked over the tarps before organizers put down prayer mats. The counterprotesters then went into the crowd of demonstrators at the front of U-Yard.

An organizer urged those not praying to stand on the blue tarps. Counterprotesters began chanting “Bring them home” then a demonstrator played a siren effect on a megaphone and echoes of “Free Palestine” overtook them. 

More than 100 people, stretching 10 rows, gathered after a call to prayer. People formed a three-sided perimeter around those praying.

Organizers packed up prayer rugs and tarps at around 1:40 p.m. They hugged each other and then began dispersing or rejoining the crowd in front of the encampment.

Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer

Updated: 1:19 p.m. — Officials threaten demonstrators with suspension

Officials are threatening students participating in the encampment with interim suspension unless they clear the encampment by 1 p.m., according to an about 12:50 p.m. Student Coalition for Palestine at GWU Instagram post. As of 1:20 p.m., the students are still demonstrating in the encampment.

The post states the students risk losing housing, class credits for this semester and being arrested for participating in the encampment. 

Updated: 1:04 p.m. — Protesters inside encampment stir as outside demonstrators swell

The small group of protesters remaining inside the encampment gathered in the center of U-Yard in a huddle at about 12:45 p.m. Around the same time, Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Christy Anthony entered the space to speak with protesters and officials. 

The conversation and Anthony’s presence appeared to cause a bit of a stir, with about half a dozen protesters leaving the encampment soon after. Some of the remaining protesters then moved around some of their tents and belongings. Others were seen making phone calls.

Anthony declined a request for comment. A coalition organizer declined a request for comment.

Despite a relatively quiet and vacated environment inside the encampment, the crowd of spectators outside of the barricades has grown louder and bigger as the demonstration reaches its 31-hour mark.

Updated: 12:37 p.m. — Protesters chant outside U-Yard

With the encampment fenced in, many organizers are outside the camp leading chants and communicating with those still inside. Organizers have moved their microphone and speaker to the sidewalk and are leading the growing protest on the street. 

“Palestine is our demand, no peace on stolen land,” protesters chanted.

Some protesters inside the camp are passing garbage bags over the fence to be disposed of. 

About 25 demonstrators remaining inside the barricade rearrange tents and pick up trash as the temperature warms. At least eight police officers, including GW Police Department Chief James Tate stand inside U-Yard.

Updated: 12:30 p.m. — MPD closes street in front of U-Yard

MPD cars blocked off H street between 20th and 21st streets at about noon as more protesters outside the encampment spilled onto the street. It’s unclear how long the street will remain closed. An officer on scene declined to comment on the record.

Updated: 11:21 a.m. — Multicultural Greek Council cancels food tour

The Multicultural Greek Council canceled its “MGC Food Tour” Friday due to the closure of Kogan Plaza that started Thursday, according to the organization’s Instagram. 

The food tour was intended to be the first MGC event this academic year after member interest dwindled and the council restructured its executive board.

Updated: 11:05 a.m. — Local elected official criticizes GW’s response to encampment

The former chair of a neighborhood governing body voiced his opposition to the University’s handling of the encampment Friday morning.

Jim Malec, a member of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, emailed GW Director of Community Relations Kevin Days at 10:28 a.m. to say he is “very disappointed” with the “posture” the University is taking on the demonstration. He said GW’s stance on the encampment reflects “previous actions” that elevate concerns about safety and the University’s control over the protection of student rights.

Malec said GW doesn’t have an obligation to exercise the “full extent” of its legal authority, though he acknowledged private universities aren’t bound by the same First Amendment considerations as public universities.

He encouraged officials to celebrate students’ demonstration — which he said represents civic action that is a “net positive” for society — instead of threatening to arrest or discipline students.

“GW is not alone among private universities in tending to err on the side of paternalism and administering its policies with a heavy hand,” Malec said in the email. “But I encourage GW leadership to think hard about what message the actions taken in the coming hours and days will send to an entire generation of your students.”

Days and other GW officials, including University President Ellen Granberg, have attended some ANC and Foggy Bottom Association meetings this year to provide updates on GW happenings. Last week, officials also invited some community members to a University Campus Plan Advisory Committee meeting to discuss campus infrastructure improvements and other news. 

Updated: 10:12 a.m. — GW says it will discipline “trespassing” student demonstrators

The University said in a statement at about 10 a.m. Friday that demonstrators in U-Yard, as well as those who attempt to join them, are trespassing private property and violating GW regulations. Officials said they will continue to work with Metropolitan Police Department officers to ensure campus “safety and security.”

Officials said they are “aware” of non-GW-affiliated students who have joined the protest, adding that they have “taken steps” to restrict access to U-Yard.

“We will pursue disciplinary actions against the GW students involved in these unauthorized demonstrations that continue to disrupt University operations,” the statement reads.

Tom Rath | Staff Photographer

Updated: 9:44 a.m. — Law school buildings locked

GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew said in an email to law students at 6:20 a.m. that all doors into U-Yard are locked and only accessible to emergency personnel. She said students should tap into entrances on H and G streets or 20th Street.

“We are continuing to work with University administration to provide quiet and secure examination spaces for the rest of the examination period,” Bowen Matthew said in the email.

Updated: 9:36 a.m. — Bathroom escorts

Officials stationed security guards in buildings surrounding U-Yard like Corcoran, Lisner and Bell halls to prevent students and community members from entering U-Yard through the building shortcuts. A GWPD officer is stationed outside Corcoran Hall, seemingly escorting student demonstrators in small groups to bathrooms. 

On Thursday, organizers set up a bathroom tent on the corner of the encampment with several buckets around it.

Updated: 9:14 a.m. — Media announcement

Organizers at about 9 a.m. told protesters at the barricade not to talk to media or police officers, the second time they’ve announced the policy via megaphone since the encampment began. 

On Thursday, organizers told demonstrators not to speak with administrators, police or media. Instead, the group has a designated media liaison who fields interviews for the coalition. Organizers could be seen regularly interacting with GW Police Department officers and administrators throughout the 24-plus-hour demonstration. 

“Because who keeps us safe?” an organizer asked the crowd after announcing the policy.

“We keep us safe,” the crowd replied. 

A few demonstrators have still managed to be named and featured in local and national outlets like the Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine. Friday morning, TV crews interviewed a few protesters as well.

Updated: 9:03 a.m. — Law school exams

Three GW Law final exams are scheduled at 9:30 a.m. and two at 2 p.m. today, per the final exam scheduleIn a video sent to students around 1 p.m. Thursday, Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew relocated some exams to undisclosed locations for the day due to noise concerns and said she would email students about relocations for following days.

The law school complex encompasses about half of the University buildings surrounding U-Yard.

Updated: 8:26 a.m. — More protesters leave

Organizers have cleared more than a dozen demonstrators with pink-level clearance, protesters who agreed to wait until receiving a second warning from police before leaving the encampment.

The demonstrators exited with bundles of their belongings in hand, rejoining the chants on the opposite side of the barricades bordering U-Yard. Other protesters appeared to opt to leave the encampment and join in calls from the street.

Only protesters who are willing to risk arrest — categorized as the red group — remain in U-Yard.

Updated: 8:21 a.m. 

For GWPD, the barricades will help prevent a repeat of yesterday, when hundreds of demonstrators joined from other local universities. 

About 25 people are standing within the gates of University Yard. The protest is likely as large as it will get — encampment won’t be able to grow now that entrances are closed.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched from Georgetown University on Thursday afternoon, and their arrival made it difficult for GWPD to confirm whether members of the protest were GW-affiliated. GWPD had been removing some non-GW-affiliated people from University property — that practice largely ended after the arrival of the Georgetown protesters.

Updated: 8:05 a.m. — Media presence

About six news cameras are set up around the protesters outside of the encampment Thursday morning, many TV stations returning for their second day on campus.

Update: 8:04 a.m. — No warning from police still

Police have not given an official warning to the protesters, who have been peaceful over the course of the last day. Entry is nearly completely blocked from students, faculty and the public. 

Not completely blocked, though — a curious professor with a cup of coffee entered the yard from Lisner Hall and wandered around for a few moments.

Updated: 7:48 a.m. — Officials close U-Yard

Officials sent a GW alert announcing that U-Yard, which is currently fenced off at all entrances except its central H Street pathway, is closed with restricted access and no re-entry. The alert states Kogan Plaza, which officials fenced off Thursday, is also closed. The rest of the Foggy Bottom campus is also in “GWorld Safety mode,” when campus is only tap accessible. 

Updated: 7:47 a.m. — Police barricade U-Yard

Organizers have cleared protesters with a green-level clearance — people who are set to leave the encampment after the first warning from police.

About a dozen police officers stand by the southeast entrance to U-Yard, one GWPD officer stands in front of the camp and police have gated off the southwest entrance to the space. 

At 7 a.m., protesters resumed chanting in U-Yard. Police officers barricaded all entrances to the green space and refused entry to students and demonstrators outside of the barricade. Two police officers were posted at the northwest, northeast and southwest entrances, one officer was posted at the southeast entrance. 

“Students, students don’t be blind, GW’s funding genocide,” demonstrators chanted.

About 40 protesters remain in U-Yard, a group of more than 30 protesters from the encampment who did not want to be at risk of arrest formed a group outside of the barricade leading chants. 

Lexi Critchett | Staff Photographer

Updated: 7:23 a.m. — Encampment stirs

Day two has dawned on the Foggy Bottom encampment, and organizers woke protesters around 2 a.m. after demonstrators noticed an escalated presence of police in the area. Organizers gathered the group in the center of the yard to review the protocol for a potential Metropolitan Police Department sweep of the encampment and arrests.

Protesters said they had thought a risk of arrest was “imminent” for the encampment, but later said they did not believe police interference would commence. Demonstrators returned to their tents roughly 45 minutes after.

Protesters shook each other awake again at approximately 5:20 a.m. after roughly seven officers appeared in the southeast corner of U-Yard alongside 20th Street. Chatter amongst members resumed in what was a nearly silent U-Yard a few minutes prior. 

Uncertainty about the looming threat of police encroachment briefly returned to the area, but protesters said they would prepare for potential arrests as a precaution and stand alert across the yard. About three MPD cars sat on 21st St. and more than ten MPD cars sat along 20th St.

A group of roughly ten GWPD officers reappeared at the southeast corner of U-Yard at about 6:10 a.m. About half a dozen protesters have trickled out of U-Yard, but more than 50 individuals remain at the encampment as the sun rises. 

Officials including Chief of Police James Tate and Chief Financial Officer Bruno Fernandes passed through the area in the early hours of the morning.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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