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Live coverage: Protesters overrun U-Yard barricades on day four of protest

Kaiden J. Yu | Staff Photographer

Editor’s note: This article contains live updates of day four of the encampment. For live updates of day five, click here.

The pro-Palestinian encampment in University Yard entered its fourth day Sunday morning, as dozens of tents remain in the plaza and more than 30 additional tents spill onto H Street.

Demonstrators pitched about a dozen additional tents on H Street Saturday, which police closed off to traffic on Friday, bringing the total to 34. Throughout the day, hundreds convened outside of the U-Yard encampment with chants and prayers, and more than 20 student organizations issued statements or delivered speeches standing in solidarity with the protesters.  

The coalition of demonstrators is demanding that each university drops charges against student protesters, protects pro-Palestinian speech on their campuses, divests from companies selling technology and weapons to Israel, discloses all endowments and investments and ends all academic partnerships with the state of Israel.

On Friday, organizers said officials suspended seven protesters for the U-Yard demonstration, issuing nine charges of misconduct per person, but organizers said at a press conference Saturday that those students left campus after officials issued the sanctions. Despite the threat of disciplinary action, student protesters have stated that they don’t plan to leave the encampment. 

The Washington Post reported Friday night that officials requested Metropolitan Police Department officials to clear the encampment early Friday morning, but MPD rejected the appeal because of concerns regarding the “optics” of clearing a small group of peaceful protesters. The University issued a statement Friday afternoon saying the protesters remaining in U-Yard were trespassing.

Officials tightened the barricades in U-Yard Saturday morning, splitting access to the plaza in half and cutting off access to Bell and Lisner halls and GW Law. Officials said students will still be allowed to use the bathrooms in Corcoran Hall, but protesters said GW has denied them bathroom access. 

Follow along for live updates below:

Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer

Updated: 4:38 a.m. — Protesters settle in for the night

Chanting in U-Yard subsided at about 2:26 a.m. and protesters began to slowly drift away from the area. 

Nearly an hour and a half later, protesters have settled into roughly 85 tents spread throughout the grassy areas of the yard. Some are nestled at the bases of trees, and some have strung up hammocks as their bed for the night. 

Organizers made an announcement at about 3:11 a.m. and said those in the encampment should pick up their trash to keep the space clean. They added that they will provide tutorials in the morning on how to use the portable bathrooms in the encampment.

Officials said the Corcoran Hall bathroom is accessible to protesters, but those in the encampment said that GW has revoked their bathroom access. Protesters set up a bathroom tent with buckets Thursday.

“We need to be able to live sustainably here for as long as possible until divestment, until disclosing, until liberation,” the organizer said. 

After the announcement, some protesters formed a single file line to receive supplies from the organizers. 

The sun is set to rise in less than two hours, but some protesters are wide awake, strolling around the encampment and sitting on benches, chatting with their friends.

Updated: 2:31 a.m.

The student coalition posted a video on Instagram about an hour ago that appears to show Provost Chris Bracey walking away from demonstrators. 

A demonstrator attempts to speak with him while he walks, and Bracey appears to grab the phone camera the student is using recording him.

Updated: 2:22 a.m.

Chants continue about two and a half hours after protesters rushed into U-Yard. About 150 people are in the plaza.

“We’re not leaving,” the group repeated.

Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer

Updated: 2:14 a.m.

A GWPD officer removed students spectating from the Media and Public Affairs Building, saying the building was closed.

Updated: 1:57 a.m. — GW Alert issued

Officials released a GW Alert warning of “urgent police activity” around University Yard. The alert tells community members to avoid the area.

Daniel Heuer | Staff Photographer

Updated: 1:33 a.m.

Protesters said no police were moving into the yard about a minute after someone in U-Yard falsely announced that The Hatchet reported MPD had plans to tear gas students. The Hatchet did not report that claim.

Updated: 1:25 a.m. — Hundreds remain

Roughly 200 protesters have been standing around the pile of discarded barricades for more than an hour and a half. They’re chanting, clapping, and smacking drums and buckets.

“Free, free Palestine,” they rang out.

Updated: 1:04 a.m. — Bracey enters U-Yard, Lisner Hall

A protester used his body to physically block Provost Chris Bracey from entering the northwest entrance of the encampment.

He then entered the encampment and was immediately flocked by a crowd of about 20 protesters and press. He walked down the western side of U-Yard with a GWPD officer flanking him. 

Bracey then stood by the Textile Museum and came to a standstill with about three other officers. Protesters yelled in his face and he stood.  

“This is your biggest nightmare,” a protester said.

“You think I’m afraid of this?” Bracey replied.

He then walked into Lisner Hall.

Updated: 12:47 a.m.

GWPD Chief James Tate is standing near Bell Hall speaking to other GWPD officers.

Updated: 12:45 a.m.

An organizer in the center of U-Yard told the crowd there is no “imminent” threat of arrest.

Provost Chris Bracey left the encampment from the northwestern corner — a small crowd of protesters followed him, cameras on, and shouted.

Dozens of people are watching from within the Media and Public Affairs building.

Lexi Critchett | Staff Photographer

Updated: 12:32 a.m.

Police are congregating throughout campus. In addition to about a dozen MPD officers around the perimeter of U-Yard, at least 16 officers are standing a block away outside the Academic Center.

Kaiden J. Yu | Staff Photographer

Updated: 12:24 a.m. 

A GWPD officer told a Hatchet reporter that GWPD Chief James Tate is on the way to the scene.

Protesters are attempting to plant a Palestinian flag on the pile of barricades.

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated: 12:21 a.m. — Students observe storming of U-Yard

A mass of students are observing U-Yard from H Street.

At least 200 people are watching from the street, and another dozen people are watching from windows in the Media and Public Affairs Building.

Updated: 12:17 a.m. — Remaining barricades come down

Protesters continue to tear down the remaining barricades. A group removed the barricades from the Katz Archway, which connects U-Yard to 20th Street. Those barricades are being placed on the center stack.

Barricades near the Textile Museum’s tunnel were also removed. A large MPD van just arrived on 21st Street.

Kaiden J. Yu | Staff Photographer

Updated: 12:10 a.m. — Police presence

A handful of MPD officers are patrolling U-Yard.

At least 10 police cars are now parked on 20th and 21st streets, with about half a dozen cars arriving in the last few minutes. At least 18 officers are gathered at the intersection of 21st and H streets.

“We need 400 officers to effectively do anything,” a GWPD officer was heard saying.

Updated: 12:01 a.m. 

Dean of Students Colette Coleman talked to a handful of GWPD and MPD officers outside Samson Hall outside the northwestern corner of U-Yard.

“Unless Dean Colette Coleman is here to meet our demands, get the fuck out of our liberation zone,” a protester said on a speaker.

More police vehicles are arriving, sirens on.

Updated: 11:56 p.m. 

An organizer is telling protesters to move small tents into U-Yard. They clarified that larger tents should stay on H Street, but is urging participants to expand the presence of small tents inside the yard. An MPD sergeant has arrived and is speaking with GWPD officers.

The organizer told people to not enter U-Yard if they feel uncomfortable. Tents are spread from H Street throughout U-Yard.

Updated: 11:52 p.m. — More police arrive, students look on

Students are chanting in the center of U-Yard as more MPD vehicles arrive, some with sirens on. Dozens of students are standing on H Street, peering into U-Yard.

Updated: 11:46 p.m. — Protesters pile barricades in U-Yard

Protesters are piling the barricades into a stack in the middle of U-Yard. The group is also spreading tents across the yard, a likely response to earlier GW efforts to limit the space the protesters had access to.

Updated: 11:43 p.m. — Nearly all barricades thrown aside

Protesters have thrown aside nearly all of the barricades that blocked access to U-Yard. The clanks of metal barricades hitting the ground are echoing through H Street.

“This is our last chance to keep the camp,” a speaker with a microphone is heard saying.

Updated: 11:39 p.m. — Demonstrators rush into U-Yard

The barricade fell at 11:28 pm and students rushed into the encampment. Students ran into the encampment. “Get on the line now!” 

More than 100 people are now in U-Yard. About half a dozen Metropolitan Police Department officers have walked toward the crowd from 21st Street.

Police on the right-hand side of U-Yard lifted up the fence and attempted to put it back in place. At 11:30, a protester on the microphone screamed for a medic. 

“This campus is a freedom zone!” A protester yelled. People repeatedly told cops “f*ck you” and “f*ck 12.”

“The people united are never defeated,” a protester screamed repeatedly after police put the barricade back in place. “Get the f*ck in the liberation zone.”

Updated: 11:30 p.m. — Protesters knock down some barricades

Some protesters pushed down the barricade, leading to loud clanks. Photos from the barricade show barricades pushed over.

Some people ran from the clanks, but returned shortly after. There are calls for a medic, though it’s unclear why.

Updated: 11:27 p.m. — Police confront protesters; organizers say GWPD attempted arrest 

At about 11:07 p.m., two GWPD officers confronted about two members of the U-Yard encampment and grabbed at least one by the arms and brought them to the northwest corner of the barricade. 

The two members of the encampment were accompanied by a group of other protesters, who rushed to the barricade and attracted the rest of the protesters in both the H Street and U-Yard encampments to the northwest entrance.

The crowd of about 100 demonstrators chanted “Let him go,” banging on a drum to the beat, until the officers eventually released the two members. After their release, the crowd chanted “We keep us safe.”

“We want justice, you say how?” Protesters chanted. “Cops off this campus now!” 

The Student Coalition for Palestine at GWU posted a video in which they said police attempted to arrest a student in the encampment — the video says protesters were able to “dearrest” the student.

“Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” The crowd chanted, some banging on drums and clapping. 

An officer was seen talking to two organizers in pink safety vests inside the barricade as the crowd continued to chant. 

“GW, shame on you,” Protesters chanted. “You endanger students too.” 

“Shame on you” protesters repeatedly chanted. 

Some protesters spilled into the encampment, past the barricade, as the crowd surged, leading police to block the entrance with their bodies and flash their flashlights on students. 

Some students pushed against the barricade, waving their hands in cops faces as they adjusted the barricade. 

Police have moved the barricade back to its original position. A cop leaned against the barricade, his back to protesters on the H Street side. He used the weight of his body to keep the barricade in place while protesters strained against it. 

The tempo of the drumbeat sped up as students continued to chant. 

“Cops off this campus now!” they repeated.

Updated 11:12 p.m. Cultural show and tell

Demonstrators began a cultural show and tell for protesters to share different cultural items and traditions with the crowd at about 9 p.m. The program lasted about an hour and a half and included poetry recitations, songs and brief history lessons. 

A demonstrator from George Mason University explained that students at the GMU encampment started the show and tell activity a few weeks ago, which prompted the GW encampment group to replicate the event Sunday night. 

“These moments we’re never going to get back,” the demonstrator said.” “Let’s be in community with each other. Let’s listen to each other.”

A Palestinian poet performed first and read two poems. He said he got in the United States a month before the Israel-Hamas war began in October and has traveled around the country reciting poetry since his arrival.

“Please don’t give up,” the poet said. “Give people in Gaza hope.”

Demonstrators called for a brief intermission at around 9:30 p.m. for protestors to observe Isha prayer.

A protester from Hawaii entered the makeshift stage and performed three songs with her ukulele as the crowd clapped along. The United States has occupied Hawaii since invading the land in 1893.

“We stand in solidarity with all other occupied countries,” the woman said before performing. “Including our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”

At about 10:40 p.m., two representatives from a Puerto Rican organization performed a traditional Puerto Rican “Bomba” dance of “resistance” in solidarity with Palestine. Enslaved people in Puerto Rico created the Bomba dance to express their West African ancestry.

“There’s a very long history of Palestinian and Puerto Rican solidarity,” one of the representatives said.

The programming concluded with chants like “From Ireland to Palestine, occupation is a crime” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine is almost free.”

Updated 10:12 p.m. — Granberg, Bracey issue statement on conduct violations of encampments

University President Ellen Granberg reiterated protesters within the University Yard encampment are in violation of GW’s rules of conduct and behavior, and rebuked “hateful language being displayed” in a statement sent to community members Sunday night.

She and Provost Chris Bracey, who co-signed the statement, said officials chose to limit access to U-Yard without enacting “forcible relocation” and initiated “academic and administrative consequences” for protesters that remained in U-Yard. The pair of officials said protesters have displayed “hateful language,” and the actions of some demonstrators have been “highly offensive” to some community members.

The pair said officials are not aware of any incidents of violence between encampments. 

“This vigor and breadth of dialogue about important issues is a hallmark of the GW experience and essential to our university’s ability to foster social and intellectual growth,” the statement reads. “Free expression and activism, however, are not unlimited.”

They said the University continues to offer Anniversary Park, a fenced-off area on F Street, as an alternative location for the encampment — the location that officials advised protesters to move to on Thursday, the first day of the demonstration — and urged protesters to move “immediately.” They said organizers would be allowed to be there until 7 p.m. each day. 

Anniversary Park, located in a more residential area of Foggy Bottom, is much smaller than U-Yard and surrounded by metal gates on top of a concrete floor. The park would be unlikely to fit the hundreds of protesters who have attended the demonstration. 

They said officials decided students that remained in the encampment would face temporary suspension and an administrative bar from campus, reiterating that the University will not comment on individual student conduct cases or ongoing conduct cases due to federal regulations. GWPD can bar individuals from using campus facilities for up to five years, but it’s unclear whether this barring is the same as an administrative one. 

Organizers at the U-Yard encampment said officials suspended seven students for their participation in the demonstration. 

They said protesters in the encampment maintain access to food, water and medical attention, if necessary. Organizers have said the University has denied access to bathrooms and running water for protesters in U-Yard, but the Granberg and Bracey statement did not address the claims. 

The leaders said the University is aware of approximately 20 tents pitched on H Street and 20 demonstrators remaining in the U-Yard encampment, the University’s first comment on the number of people inside the encampment. An organizer declined to comment on the number of protesters remaining inside the U-Yard encampment during a press conference Saturday. 

The pair said MPD is monitoring the encampment alongside GWPD. They said H Street is public property that is “neither controlled nor maintained” by GW, and that encampment falls under the jurisdiction of the D.C. government. 

Granberg and Bracey said officials requested the MPD’s assistance on Thursday to provide “additional support” related to the demonstration. 

The Washington Post reported Friday evening that MPD rejected pleas from the University to clear the encampment, citing concerns of the “optics” of relocating a small group of peaceful protesters. GW officials’ statement did not address the Post’s report. 

An MPD spokesperson said in an email MPD does not comment on operational tactics and procedures, but MPD is supporting GWPD in responding to the protests. 

“Since Thursday, MPD has stood in support of the George Washington University Police department as they lead the response to first amendment demonstrations occurring on George Washington University grounds,” the email stated. “MPD will continue to monitor this first amendment activity, both on and off GW property.”

Granberg and Bracey said the University is committed to ensuring finals and Commencement occur “safely and appropriately.” 

“This is an evolving situation tied to a larger coordinated national protest effort that we will continue to monitor and address,” the statement reads. “As we approach the end of the academic year, our ability to operate in a way that ensures the academic success and personal well-being of our community becomes even more critical.” 

The email is officials’ second acknowledgment of the encampment in U-Yard after Granberg issued a statement on Thursday stating officials had requested the assistance of MPD in relocating the encampment from U-Yard.

“We ask that the entire GW community join us in creating the campus environment that we all came to GW to experience: a community that supports those who want to voice their perspectives on important issues and encourages rigorous and respectful civil discourse, where students feel safe and proud of who they are, and where every individual is free and able to pursue a world-class education,” the statement reads. “This is the GW we all want and the GW our community deserves.”

Updated 7:53 p.m. Music duo performs for protesters

An Andean music duo called Wayta began performing for the crowd shortly after 7 p.m.  

Within the crowd of more than 200 protesters, demonstrators held hands and danced, encircling the duo. 

“This music is an expression of persistence much like the culture of our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” one member of the duo said. 

Protesters created another circle around the musical group and started dancing around them, circling in opposite directions as demonstrators laughed. 

“Culture is not entertainment, culture is resistance,” one of the performers said.  

A toddler danced near the demonstrators, earning applause from the crowd.

Updated 7:35 p.m. — U-Yard encampment meets with outsiders

More than 15 demonstrators inside the U-Yard encampment are speaking with someone on the opposite side of the barricades. The individual’s identity is unclear.

They applauded twice throughout the discussion and at one point chanted sayings like “Free, free Palestine,” “intifada, intifada, long live the intifada,” “We want justice, you say how? End the occupation now” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine is almost free” and “Black power.”

They then took a group photo, putting arms around one another and posing with peace signs. Protesters in the encampment took turns shaking hands with the individual.

They continued meeting with roughly 20 others on the outside, applauding twice more periodically.

Demonstrators within the encampment have spoken with and hugged individuals on the other side of the barricades throughout the past four days, but this appears to be the first group-wide meeting with an outsider.

Updated 7:10 p.m. — Organizers lead Palm Sunday programming 

At about 5:45 p.m., organizers began programming in observation of Orthodox Palm Sunday — a Greek Orthodox tradition celebrated on the Sunday before Orthodox Easter, which will take place May 5 this year.

A student began by reading out the “Our Father” prayer in Arabic while organizers handed out crosses to audience members.

A member of the DMV Student Coalition for Justice in Palestine read a speech detailing the history of Orthodox Palm Sunday. He said the religious holiday is meant to commemorate Jesus’ “march” into Jerusalem where he was later crucified.

“The march is triumphant,” the representative said. “It is the announcement of the coming victory of the mass movements for liberation. It is an act of steadfast defiance to those who would have liked to see your Eisaa and his community forced into silence.”

An organizer read the names of “martyrs,” a phrase used for people killed by Israel, who were killed Oct. 20 in an Israeli strike which destroyed the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Porphyrius, the oldest active church in Gaza.

A Palestinian Christian clergyman spoke about and read a short prayer commonly read on the religious holiday dedicated to Orthodox Christians living in Gaza who cannot celebrate Orthodox Palm Sunday. 

A student inside the encampment concluded the observations with a speech criticizing Christian Zionists who “urge” for further military action in Gaza.

“God of mercy, open the eyes of Americans to the fact that their tax dollars are spent to genocide and ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people,” the student said.

Updated 6:32 p.m. — Protesters settle in for evening ahead

As the afternoon wanes and programming pauses, protesters on H Street cluster into groups while eating halal chicken biryani provided by organizers. Many students sit doing homework on their laptops as finals get closer.

Students inside the U-Yard encampment sprawl out inside tents or on top of tarps. Some quietly play music from their tents while others lean over the barricades to chat with friends and demonstrators.

Updated 6:09 p.m. —  Children hang art, attend protest in H Street encampment

During the evening break in programming, about a dozen children darted through the encampment on H street and drew in chalk on the pavement, with their parents following close behind.

Children at the protest have sketched on pieces of paper and taped their art to the barricade surrounding University Yard. On the west side of the fence, haphazardly taped signs displayed children’s messy scrawl reading “Free Palestine.” 

One sign appeared to depict a tent with the words “Mimi” and “GW 4 Palestine” finger-painted onto the bottom right corner. Other drawings had pictures of watermelons along with the Palestinian flag.

Omar Aziz said he brought his daughter to the encampment to serve as a role model as someone who stands up for causes they believe in. He said he wants to teach his daughter to stand on the “right side of history.” 

“I thought that it was important for my daughter to witness the moment, to be a witness to what’s going on and to have memories when she’s older to know that when there had to be a choice between right and wrong, she was brought to make the right choice,” Aziz said.

Aziz, whose family is from Afghanistan, said he once spent a summer in Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, working as a high school teacher. He said his students would often tell him about the struggles they were facing living in the West Bank. 

“I saw with my own eyes and I saw the tragedy and I saw the conditions that people were living in before October 7, and so it’s important to continue to stand up for the Palestinian people even beyond my time there,” Aziz said. 

Erika, a mother who didn’t provide her last name, said she has been coming to pro-Palestinian demonstrations since October. She said she brought her daughter with her to show support for the growing encampment. 

“I think it’s amazing that the students are taking a stand, risking everything really,” she said. “They put everything on the line to show their solidarity with the people of Gaza and Palestinians everywhere, and I am really inspired by it.”

Erika said she feels safe having her child at the demonstration because she feels it’s a community of people she trusts. She said a parent asked her to watch their child earlier that day and they had been watching her all afternoon. 

“We love the people, the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”

Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer

Updated 5:45 p.m. — Officials issue campus advisory continuing “GWorld Safety mode”

The University issued a campus advisory just before 5:30 p.m. stating access to buildings on the Foggy Bottom Campus remains on “GWorld Safety mode,” requiring community members with regular access to tap their GWorld cards to enter buildings. 

GWorld readers continue to be locked, and spaces like University Yard, Kogan Plaza and the garage adjacent to the School of Media & Public Affairs are closed. The stretch of H Street between 20th and 21st Street also remains closed to traffic due to the dozens of tents set up in the street.

The alert states access to Gelman Library remains unimpeded despite Kogan Plaza’s closure. 

Officials first placed campus on GWorld Safety mode Thursday afternoon, and effectively closed access to U-Yard and Kogan Plaza Friday morning.

Updated 5:20 p.m. — Social media posts from Gaza send messages of thanks to GW encampment

An English teacher in Gaza posted a video Saturday depicting a child holding a poster thanking students at GW for their encampment protest, alongside other children acknowledging pro-Palestinian activists at universities across the U.S. 

The sign, held by a young boy standing in what appears to be a camp in Gaza, reads “Thanks to students. Stand with Gaza. Be a human,” alongside a GW logo. 

The video also features messages thanking students at other universities, like Columbia and Harvard, where students have occupied campus with encampments within the past few weeks. 

An additional post from the D.C., Maryland and Virginia chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement Sunday shows a thank-you message written on the side of a tent in Gaza, sent by Palestinian student Mahmoud Nabhan. 

“Huge thanks to SJP, PYM, and GW students for their outstanding support,” the message on the tent reads. “Keep up the great work! We see and appreciate you.”

Updated 5:02 p.m. — Author speaks to crowd about Palestinian “steadfastness” 

Demonstrators gathered on the east side of H Street shortly after 4 p.m. to hear a speech from Richard Becker, the Western Region Coordinator for the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism Coalition. Becker spoke about his book “Palestine, Israel and the U.S Empire” — an analysis of the “struggle for Palestine” including a timeline of the history of Palestine — in a talk organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 

“This book was really meant to be a resource for activists,” Becker said. “It’s meant to show, to demystify the many myths surrounding this issue, this struggle.” 

Becker commended the “steadfast” work by Palestinians and their quest for liberation and justice, and urged demonstrators to adopt the same determination.

“Let us take a page from that great book, steadfastness and be steadfast ourselves in continuing this struggle until Palestine is truly free,” Becker said.

An organizer from the Palestinian Youth Movement facilitating the book talk asked the audience why it is important to engage in political education.

“So history doesn’t repeat itself,” one audience member said.

Updated 4:16 p.m. — Opera singer performs Palestinian music for H Street crowd

Some demonstrators on H Street played live Palestinian music, singing while others clapped along to the tune. Musicians sang and played the violin, flute and drums. 

“As Palestinians, we want to lift our spirits,” the musician said. “We are winning over the Zionists.” 

An opera singer who started #operaforPalestine on social media recited “Write My Name on My Leg Mama” by Zayna Azam — a poem from the point-of-view of a Palestinian child — prompting her ASL interpreter to wipe away tears during the performance. The singer then sang “Senza Mamma” from the opera Suor Angelica, which she said reminded her of the poem.

“Write my name on my leg mama,” the singer recited. “When the bomb hits our house, when the walls crush our skulls and bones, our legs will tell our story, how there was nowhere for us to run.”

Updated 3:35 p.m. — Afternoon heat beats down on encampment

As the heat climbs to a peak of about 84 degrees this afternoon, protesters in the U-Yard encampment have traded off filling buckets and bottles and rinsing their hair at the water dispenser by Corcoran Hall. Demonstrators apply sunscreen and have set up at least three additional canopies, one to which they fastened a blanket to block the sun. 

Protesters on H Street apply sunscreen and rest in shaded areas drinking water and Gatorade to stay hydrated. Some sit in lawn chairs while others set up picnic blankets. At least 20 cases of water sit stacked under the medical canopy while people enjoy oranges and other fruits. 

About 10 families have joined the H Street demonstrations, and many children play with bubbles on the sidewalks, grab popsicles and run through the closed street. Other demonstrators paint banners and flags. 

The warm weather comes as the hottest day of the encampment so far, following three days of chilly days and nights that reached a low of 46 degrees early Friday morning. Demonstrators bundled up with jackets and blankets and passed out hand warmers to stay warm in the cold weather within the past few days.

Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer

Updated 3:24 p.m. — Healthcare worker who treated patients in Gaza shares stories, advice 

At around 2:20 p.m., demonstrators gathered for a talk by Dr. Sh. Haifaa Younis, an OBGYN who recently returned from treating patients in Gaza. About 75 sprawled out on prayer rugs, in lawn chairs or stood to listen to Younis and ask questions about her work to aid civilians during the war. 

Younis detailed the scenes from her work in Gaza, which she said included few meals, praying as bombs hit the area and performing a C-section on a dead patient. She said the people she met and cared for in Gaza always maintained hope, and she encouraged the demonstrators to do the same.

“May He Almighty protect you all, may Almighty use you for the service,” Younis said. “May you be a reason to put a smile on the faces of these children that are so unhappy.”

After delivering her speech and taking questions from demonstrators, she huddled with protesters by the barrier of the encampment and offered words of encouragement.

“Stay safe,” Younis said.

Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer

Updated 3:03 p.m. — Officials assign security guards to U-Yard buildings, removing many from residence halls

A GW security guard said officials have relocated guards to watch over U-Yard buildings at the perimeter of the encampment, removing them from their usual residence hall posts. He said security guard shifts in U-Yard have ranged from nine to twelve hours, but hours are subject to change and guards could stay at their post through the night. 

Strong, Munson, JBKO, Shenkman, Francis Scott Key, Lafayette, Guthridge, Madison, Fulbright, Philip S. Amsterdam and Mitchell halls, as well as International House, District House, 2109 F Street and The Dakota have no security guard posted in their lobbies, as of Sunday afternoon. Thurston Hall currently has one acting security guard. 

The University added increased security guards to residence hall lobbies in November in response to ongoing and planned activism in the District during the onset of the war in Gaza.

For the first two days of the encampment, groups of GW Police Department officers have patrolled U-Yard. Officers strolled through the tents and manned each corner of the area, congregating into groups of up to 10 officers. Metropolitan Police Department officers have occasionally crossed through the plaza in recent days. 

At about 8:48 a.m. Saturday, GWPD officers stationed security guards around the encampment and by about 7 p.m., the guards outnumbered GWPD officers.

Updated 2:38 p.m. —Demonstrators join in Dhuhr prayer

Organizers invited the crowd of roughly 100 demonstrators on H Street to join the afternoon Dhuhr prayer just before 2 p.m. Around 25 individuals in three rows prayed for 10 minutes as other demonstrators encircled them on all sides.

Organizers urged protestors who were engaging with counterprotesters to participate in the prayer, which was set up on the opposite of the H Street tents, or stand in front of those praying for protection away from the counter-protesters.

Updated 2:33 p.m. — H Street demonstrators spar with pro-Israel counterprotesters 

H Street protesters clashed with two pro-Israel counterprotesters, who said they were a mother and son, at about 1:10 p.m., with some demonstrators on both sides raising their middle fingers to each other. About ten pro-Palestinian protesters, some with megaphones, chanted “Palestine will never die” and “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Zionism will fall” to the pair of counterprotesters, one of which had an Israeli flag draped over their shoulders. 

Another pro-Palestinian protester beat a drum to the beat of the chants near the counter-protester. 

Pro-Palestinian protesters told the counter-protesters “This is a liberation zone, this is a peaceful zone.” About five U-Yard encampment protesters joined nearby from behind the barricades, one waving a Palestinian flag while the others clapped and joined the chants of “Colonizers we don’t want ‘em, what we want is total freedom” and “Gaza’s blood is on your hands.” 

One counter-protester appeared to livestream the interaction on Instagram. The mother and son duo said they were visiting campus while the son toured GW. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators said the mother shoved one of them, and she replied she had no choice because she and her son were out-numbered by demonstrators during the altercation.

The roughly 30-minute spar is one of few heated moments so far between pro-Palestinian demonstrators and counterprotesters in the past four days of the encampments.

Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer

Updated 1:29 p.m. — Administrators meet with organizers

Chief Financial Officer Bruno Fernandes, Provost Chris Bracey and Dean of Students Colette Coleman entered the U-Yard at about 1:10 p.m. to speak with U-Yard encampment organizers in pink vests at the south barricade. Coleman spoke with two organizers about 9:40 a.m. Sunday morning.

Updated 12:45 p.m. — Crowd swells as counterprotesters join

At about 12:28 p.m., protesters on H Street began chants of “Free, free Gaza” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” after about a 30-minute lull in chants. At 12:37 p.m., one member of the crowd climbed on top of the small brick wall lining the north entrance of U-Yard, holding up an Israeli flag. Many people in the roughly 50 person crowd of protesters and counterprotesters are recording one another on their phones. 

Protesters have added tambourines to their chanting, which they are hitting to the beat of their “Gaza you are not alone, this campus is a freedom zone” chant.  

Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce stands in front of the School of Media and Public Affairs building, observing the protest.

Updated 12:05 p.m. — Facilities remove posters

A facilities staff member scraped pro-Palestinian posters off a statue of George Washington in front of Francis Scott Key Hall at about 11:43 a.m.

Updated 11:22 a.m. Community Coordinators outside of Kogan Plaza

Community coordinators sit outside each of the four fenced-off entrances into Kogan Plaza, watching the area to ensure nobody enters. 

When officials first erected the fences outside of Kogan Plaza Thursday afternoon, campus security guards took shifts monitoring the area’s entries. Now, campus security guards are the majority of staff watching U-Yard, largely taking over from GW Police Department officers who previously patrolled the yard. Community coordinators appear to have taken their place on watch. 

Updated 11:13 a.m. — Chanting resumes

Demonstrators inside the U-Yard encampment began synchronized clapping at about 11:00 a.m. while gathered in a circle at the center of the encampment. Some are sat in lawn chairs while some rest on the ground and others stand.

Demonstrators briefly chanted “Hatchet, Hatchet go to hell, you’re the rats we can tell” and “Hatchet, Hatchet you’re all cowards, the students have all the power.” 

Protesters on the H Street side of the barricade beat drums in tune with chants of “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” from those inside the U-Yard encampment.

Updated 10:25 a.m. — Coleman, Goodly inspect H Street encampment

Dean of Students Colette Coleman and Interim Vice President for Safety and Facilities Baxter Goodly walked into the H Street encampment at around 10:15 a.m. and observed chalk on the steps of the School of Media and Public Affairs building. Coleman then walked over to speak with a parked MPD officer on 21st Street and Goodly spoke separately with someone over the phone, mentioning “chalk.” The pair left the area and walked north on 21st Street at 10:21 a.m.

Updated 10:20 a.m. — Spray paint on George Washington statue

An unknown individual painted “FREE GAZA” on the base of the George Washington Equestrian Statue in Washington Circle. It’s unclear when the individual painted the statue.

The phrase is painted on both the left and right sides of the statue’s stone base. The side facing east on Pennsylvania Avenue also says, “DC STANDS FOR LIBERATION.” 

In December, the statue, located north of the Foggy Bottom campus, was also painted with “FREE GAZA” graffiti.  

Ann Duan | Photographer

Updated 10:08 a.m. — Encampment clearings across the nation

The U-Yard encampment surpassed its 96th hour Sunday morning without arrests, while about 19 encampments at other universities nationwide have seen arrests or detainments of protestors in a shorter time frame. 

Officials requested Metropolitan Police Department officers to clear the U-Yard encampment Friday morning, a day after the encampment’s inception, but officers reportedly refused due to concerns about the “optics” of disturbing a peaceful protest, according to the Washington Post. Since the protest began in U-Yard Thursday morning, it has remained peaceful. The H Street encampment, which demonstrators built Friday night after GW blocked off access to U-Yard, has also been peaceful. 

Officials said Friday that remaining demonstrators in U-Yard are trespassing, but the encampment expanded to H Street Friday night, leaving a potential decision to clear the encampment on public property to the jurisdiction of MPD and the D.C. government.

If MPD does not clear the encampment, it does not appear like GW will, meaning it could be there for good. 

Other universities, reportedly like GW, have called on local law enforcement to arrest student demonstrators. Unlike GW’s encampment, most obliged. 

Officers in Boston wearing riot gear detained about 100 protesters Saturday after Northeastern University students maintained their encampment since Thursday. Northeastern officials said they decided to clear the encampment after the protesters used “virulent antisemitic slurs,” according to The Huntington News, Northeastern’s independent student newspaper.

New York City Police Department officers arrested 108 protesters at Columbia University, which spearheaded the rise of pro-Palestinian encampments, one day after their encampment commenced. Columbia University President Minouche Shafik testified at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing the day before the arrests and Congress members criticized Columbia officials’ responses to campus demonstrations.

Officers in St. Louis arrested more than 80 protesters at a Washington University in St. Louis encampment Saturday night for charges including trespassing, resisting arrest and assault for some protesters after they set up their tents that morning.

Updated 10:00 a.m. — Secret Service briefly appears

A Secret Service officer parked their car outside the University Student Center on 21st Street around 9:30 a.m. The officer spoke with two Metropolitan Police Department officers for about 20 minutes, before driving westbound on H Street at 9:55 a.m. 

Updated 9:49 a.m. — Staff approach south barricade

Dean of Students Colette Coleman, accompanied by two other people, approached the south barricade at about 9:40 a.m. asking to speak with someone in charge of the encampment. An organizer in a pink vest walked over to the group and another organizer joined soon after. The conversation lasted about seven minutes before both groups returned to their respective sides. 

Updated 9:10 a.m. — Group enters back of U-Yard

At about 9:07 a.m., a group of about seven people, including Community Coordinator Eric Cederholm, entered U-Yard and are circled around the tables outside Lisner Hall. One person appears to be giving directions to the rest of the group.

More protesters in U-Yard are rising as demonstrators on H Street dismantle two tents.

Updated 8:31 a.m. — Protesters wake, deliver food

Protesters in the H Street encampment are stirring, journaling and milling around the closed-off block now that the sun has fully risen, with some disassembling one tent. 

Two people brought trays of food to the U-Yard camp at about 8:11 a.m., which remains quiet except for a handful of demonstrators speaking with people on the outside of the barricade and readjusting rain flies on tents. 

The demonstration remained relatively quiet Saturday, which may hold through the weekend. MPD indicated Saturday that they want to reopen H Street, which is housing about 35 tents, to traffic before the Monday morning commute.


Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer

Updated 7:22 a.m. — Warm weather ahead

The sun should return today, and with it, warm weather. Forecasts show a high of 83 degrees around 4 p.m. Weather should remain warm after Sunday, cresting 89 degrees Monday and Tuesday and remaining in the 80s through Friday. There is a zero percent chance for precipitation Sunday.

Protests persisted Saturday through intermittent rainfall and temperatures between in the 50s and 60s. 

Updated: 6:23 a.m. — Minor attempts to enter SMPA

The School of Media and Public Affairs building is usually closed on weekends, restricting it to community members with GWorld tap access. A minor entered the building at about 5:40 a.m. using tap access from a GW community member, and an officer told her she was not in trouble but said GWPD would pursue disciplinary action if another person without tap access entered the building. 

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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