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Live coverage: Encampment meets day seven under congressional, mayoral attention

Daniel Heuer | Assistant Photo Editor
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) speaking through a megaphone at a press conference in H Street.

Editor’s note: This article includes The Hatchet’s live coverage of the seventh day of the University Yard encampment. For live coverage of day eight, click here.

Protesters begin the seventh day of their encampment Wednesday under scrutiny from members of Congress for the near week-long demonstration.

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) urged Congress Tuesday to hold a hearing on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s block of GW officials’ request for Metropolitan Police Department Officials to clear the encampment. Other government officials including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also urged Bowser in a letter Tuesday to have MPD sweep the encampment and protect Jewish students at GW.

A spokesperson for Bowser’s office said D.C. and University officials met on Tuesday, but did not say who attended the meeting and declined to comment on any input that Bowser’s office may have provided GW officials on their handling of the encampment.

Demonstrators have eased up on their chants and rallies over the last two days, holding more events like teach-ins, movie screenings and safety demonstrations, but the group has kept numbers up and retained their occupation of U-Yard and a portion of H Street. As final exams approach, student protesters have pulled out their laptops to study and finish assignments.

Students in the encampment represent colleges around the D.C. area said they plan to remain in the encampments until officials meet their demands — that each represented university drop all charges against pro-Palestinian protesters and student organizations, protect free speech on campus, divest from companies supplying technology and arms to Israel, disclose all endowments and investments and end academic partnerships with Israel. It’s unclear if protesters and school officials have met to bargain.

Campus remains open with “enhanced” security measures and barricades enclosing Kogan Plaza, leaving a pathway from H Street for students to access Gelman Library. Final exams begin Saturday for some students.

Follow along for live updates below:

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Updated 5:20 a.m. — Organizers rally in the center of U-Yard, denounce police and administration

Facilities workers loaded the metal barricades into a truck on 21st Street after removing them from the center of U-Yard. Protesters dismantled the barricades and threw them into the center of the yard Sunday night following an alleged attempted arrest of a student.

A person loading the barricades into the truck said the workers removed them from U-Yard because the barricades are rentals. As a rally formed in the center of U-Yard, some protesters packed up their belongings and left the encampment. 

An organizer said the workers removing the barricades were “a joke” for moving the barricades in the middle of the night rather than the daytime when the media is present.

“Do you all feel good about that?” the organizer said. “You come in here, sneaking in like the rats that you are.”

The organizer said the protesters in the encampment would not be leaving or giving up on their demonstration. When they asked the crowd what they do when police arrest students from schools in Florida, Virginia and Columbia University, the crowd responded, “Stand up, fight back.”

“We are not moving,” the organizer said. “Not for this cowardly, *ss admin, not for these Israeli trade cops. We’re not moving for nobody.” 

At about 5:06 a.m., an organizer told the protesters to go back to sleep.

Updated 4:45 a.m. — Facilities remove barricades, protesters resume chants

At about 4:35 a.m., facilities workers began to remove barricades from the pile in the center of the encampment to the intersection of G Street and 21st Street near Bell Hall. An organizer strolled through U-Yard sounding a siren from their megaphone to wake protesters.

At about 4:39 a.m., an organizer began to lead a chant of “Free, free Palestine” as more and more protesters began to exit their tents. Some protesters seem to be unaware of what is going on.

“We want justice, you say how?” the protesters chanted as a protester drummed along to the beat. “End the occupation now.”

As facilities remove the remainder of the barricades, GWPD officers stand on around the perimeter and center of U-Yard, monitoring the growing rally. About five MPD officers walked into the encampment at about 4:45 a.m.

Updated 2:56 a.m. — Demonstrators zip up tents, retire for the night 

By about 2:45 a.m. a hush has fallen over the encampment, and conversation among demonstrators is sparse. 

Many protesters have retired to bed — the Converse, Vans and Nike shoes splayed outside the mouth of tents or beside outdoor sleeping mats seemingly indicative of their owners’ intent to turn in for the night.  

Other demonstrators chatter in small groups or use their phones or laptops. A couple protesters mill around pathways cutting through the encampment.  

A GW Police Department officer scrolls through their phone while posted outside of Corcoran Hall. 

Updated 11:34 p.m. — Facilities contractor says boarding of doors part of summer renovations

The contractor who delivered wood to facilities workers boarding up the Burns Law Library windows said the work was part of scheduled summer renovations to the building, which he said had been planned for months.

The doors to the Textile Museum that face U-Yard are now boarded up.

It’s unclear when officials announced they would renovate the buildings. Officials did not board the doors or windows of any of the doors not facing U-Yard. 

Updated 10:52 p.m. — Facilities workers board up doors to buildings surrounding U-Yard

At about 10:15 p.m. GW facilities workers began boarding up the doors of Corcoran, Lisner, Bell, Stuart and Stockton halls, which surround U-Yard.

Officials did not board up doors that face the street. The windows of the buildings are not boarded up. 

At around 10:30 p.m., the door to Lisner Hall was completely unlocked, not requiring tap access to enter the building. Bell, Stuart and Corcoran halls and the Burns Law Library were still locked.

Two GW Police Department officers are posted outside of Corcoran Hall.

Lexi Critchett | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated 9:28 — Demonstrators listen to performances from musicians

As some protesters from the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s march slowly trickle out of U-Yard, about 150 demonstrators from both the march and the encampment are gathered in the center of U-Yard listening to four performers sing, strum string instruments and hit drums as the crowd claps along. 

The main singer, in between songs, said what happens in Palestine affects everyone.

“Once Palestine gets liberated, it will liberate everyone else,” the singer said.

Kaiden J. Yu | Staff Photographer

Updated 9:09 p.m. — Protesters march for student’s free speech, pro-Palestinian cause

One protester, who said he was unaffiliated with GW and declined to share his name, said he found out about the march on the Party for Socialism’s Instagram. He said if the University does anything to hurt the demonstrators in the encampment, they will have to “reckon” with knowing they “failed” their job of protecting students. 

“A lot of people, myself included, are comparatively late to this, but what matters is that you get in and really commit to the liberation,” the demonstrator said. 

Another demonstrator, who said they are a D.C. community member and declined to share their name, said they found out about the march to the encampment from an Instagram post and chose to attend because they are “passionate” about the pro-Palestinian cause and freedom of speech for students. 

The protester added that the purpose of education is free speech. 

“This is important, if you don’t stand up for this, then what are you going to stand up for?” the demonstrator said. 

Updated 8:43 p.m. — Protesters speak in front of Lisner Hall

An organizer began speaking to the crowd and stated the group’s demands, including dropping charges against student protesters, protecting pro-Palestinian speech on campuses, divesting from companies selling technology and weapons to Israel, disclosing all endowments and investments and ending all academic partnerships with the state of Israel.

“Divest now,” demonstrators chanted. 

Protesters then took a break from chanting for prayer.

Updated: 8:34 p.m. — May Day protesters enters U-Yard

The crowd of about 200 protesters entered U-Yard and gathered in the center of the plaza, to cheers from student demonstrators. Organizers encouraged people to move further into the plaza toward the front of Lisner Hall. 

Protesters held a long banner that reads “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

The Party for Socialism and Liberation announced a march in solidarity with Palestine Tuesday at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, International Workers Day, in Franklin Park. The post states that May Day is a celebration of working and oppressed people worldwide and encourages workers and students from across the D.C. region to “stand arm in arm” with students nationally taking a stand against Israel’s war in Gaza.

“On May 1 in D.C., workers will show the world our strength, power, and determination to struggle for a free Palestine!” the post reads. 

At least five Metropolitan Police Department units tailed the crowd as it neared campus. Upon the group’s arrival, one additional Metropolitan Police Department car pulled into the parking lot at the corner of H and 20th streets. About six MPD officers walk around the corner of H and 20th streets. 

“GWU, we know you, you endanger students too,” the protesters chanted from the center of U-Yard. 

Organizers announced that on Thursday at 10 a.m., there will be a rally in the encampment. The DMV Palestinian Youth Movement, the D.C. Party for Socialism and Liberation, the GWU Student Coalition for Palestine, the National SJP and the DMV SJP Coalition planned the protest at 10 a.m. and encourages organizers to bring noisemakers and “defend the progress the encampment has made,” according to a joint post on Instagram.

“DMV SJP is calling on our community to show up and show out tomorrow at the Popular University for Gaza,” a post from the SJP coalition announced.

Kaiden J. Yu | Staff Photographer

Updated: 8:17 p.m. — More protesters turn onto H Street, arrive in encampment

As additional protesters turned onto H Street, demonstrators within the encampment began to chant “Free, free Palestine.” 

“Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” protesters turning onto H Street chanted.

A protester within the group marching onto campus said the group was from the Party for Socialism and Liberation. The group organized a march for Palestine on May 1, which marks International Workers Day.

Demonstrators from within the encampment cheered as the additional protesters arrived, the group began chanting in unison.

“One, two, three, four, occupation no more. Five, six, seven, eight, Gaza we will liberate.”

Updated: 8:07 p.m. — Additional protesters head towards campus

A group of about 200 protesters were seen on K and 19th streets at about 8 p.m. holding a banner reading “Free Palestine” with the Party for Socialism and Liberation written underneath it marched towards campus.

Updated: 8:00 p.m. — Nearing one week in, University President Ellen Granberg has not been seen at the encampment 

University President Ellen Granberg and Provost Chris Bracey met with House Republicans Wednesday afternoon in 1922 F Street, likely joined by other top officials. 

The congress people drove to H Street, walked through the University Yard encampment and held a press conference before a crowd of hundreds of protesters, onlookers and press — all without Granberg. Granberg is one of the only top University administrators who have not visited the “Liberation Camp” in U-Yard since its installation Thursday. 

Other administrators have repeatedly made their way through the encampment. Dean of Students Colette Coleman, GW Police Department Chief James Tate, Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce, Chief Financial Officer Bruno Fernandes and Assistant Vice President for Business Services Seth Weinshel have been spotted observing the encampment over the past week.

Granberg and Bracey entered the F street building minutes before the congress peoples’ arrival. This appears to be the second time Granberg has been seen since demonstrators set up the encampment. She previously made an appearance at an Elliott School of International Affairs event Thursday evening.

Bracey has been seen intermittently at the protest, observing from afar. After students tore down barricades around the encampment on Sunday night, he walked through U-Yard and was immediately flocked by a crowd of about 20 protesters and press. 

The Student Coalition of Students for Justice in Palestine posted a video early Monday morning depicting Bracey grabbing the phone of a student recording him.

Updated: 5:34 p.m. — Counter protesters passed through U-Yard holding Israeli flag  

At about 5:20p.m. a group of four counter protesters walked down the Western side of University Yard, two of them holding an Israeli flag. No demonstrators in the encampment acknowledged them.

The counter protesters are now standing at the top of the steps of the School of Media and Public Affairs building, holding up the Israeli flag and staring out at the encampment. 

Updated: 5:27 p.m. — Organizer reiterates demands during “downtime” 

At around 5:15 p.m. an organizer restated demonstrators’ demands — that officials at universities in the D.C. area drop all charges against pro-Palestinian organizations, protect free speech on campus, divest from companies selling technology and weapons to “the zionist regime,” disclose all endowments and investments and end all academic partnerships with Israel. 

The demonstrator then told students to use the next two hours to study for exams and complete work before a panel at 7 p.m. on “May Day.”  

Updated: 4:00 p.m. — Boebert says National Guard should be considered

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican known for her inflammatory comments, said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser should consider calling in the National Guard to clear the encampment in U-Yard. Bowser does not have the authority to call the D.C. National Guard — that authority rests with the executive branch of the federal government.

“Thus far, she has not allowed Metropolitan Police to do their job,” Boebert told a Hatchet reporter. “It may be to the point where she needs to call in the National Guard.”

Updated: 3:31 p.m. — Boebert grabs at flag hung on George Washington statue

While walking through U-Yard with other members of Congress, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) appeared to attempt to pull down a Palestinian flag that was wrapped around the George Washington statue in the front of the plaza.

“It is private property, and this is America, and this should come down,” Boebert said to protesters near the flag before walking away.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) attempts to pull a Palestinian flag off the George Washington statue in U-Yard. (Daniel Heuer | Assistant Photo Editor)

Updated: 3:31 p.m. — Presser ends

The presser has wrapped up and the members of Congress entered into vans and left. 

The Hatchet will continue to update with quotes and details of the visit.

Updated 3:30 p.m. — Chabad GW member said she spoke with members of Congress

Chabad GW member Emily Weprin walked with the congressmembers as they toured the encampment. Weprin said she spoke to Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-CO) about the “terrorism” ideologies that she said encampments perpetrate on campuses across the country. She said Boebert was angered by the “defacement” of the George Washington statue that sits at the center entrance to U-Yard, with Palestinian flags and signs. 

Weprin said although she doesn’t agree with everything the congressmembers stand for, she is appreciative for their stance on the encampment. 

“I do appreciate that they are prioritizing Jewish students and they are prioritizing just not tolerating antisemitic ideology,” Weprin said.

Updated 3:19 p.m. — Luna: ‘In Florida, we know how to handle these things’

A Hatchet reporter asked Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) why she was focused on the encampment in D.C. instead of ones on college campuses in her home state of Florida. She replied, “In Florida, we know how to handle these things.”

Police have arrested student demonstrators at universities like the University of Florida and the University of South Florida.

Updated: 3:14 p.m.

The press conference has begun, and members of the encampment are chanting loudly to drown out the Republican visitors.

“The University president explicitly told us in a briefing they do not want these encampments on their campus,” Comer said in the press conference.

Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the chair of the House Oversight Committee, in H Street. (Daniel Heuer | Assistant Photo Editor)

Updated: 3:06 p.m. — Comer comments

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) said that protesters in the University Yard encampment are “trespassing” and that the Congress will do everything they can to reach “law and order.” He said Congress has legislative authority over the District, given its lack of statehood.

“Our message here today is that help is on the way. We’re going to use every legislative authority we have to ensure the Metro Police Department is protecting students here at George Washington,” he told a Hatchet reporter.

Comer wrote a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD Chief Pamela Smith on Tuesday criticizing their reported decision to not clear the GW encampment.

Updated: 2:58 p.m.

Singing, clapping and drumming has increased as the crowd chants “Hands off D.C.” Demonstrators have been told to not engage with the GOP members.

“This is interesting,” Rep. Lauren Boebert said while walking on H Street.

Updated 2:55 p.m. — Members enter U-Yard

The members have entered U-Yard, approaching the center where stacks of barricades are piled. Some members of the press are standing atop the pile to take photos of the representatives.

One counterprotester shouted “Free Gaza from Hamas” while holding up a sign reading “I stand with Israel.”

A circle of more than 30 press and community members surrounded the representatives as they walked diagonally through the encampment from the northwest corner. 

One protester began to sing into a microphone while other demonstrators clapped along. The group of demonstrators sitting on the ground stood up after the professor finished speaking and now face the center of the encampment.

Updated: 2:51 p.m. — Members of Congress arrive 

A herd of members of Congress arrived to the corner of 21st and H streets. 

Congress people were greeted with boos, an a cappella rendition of the Imperial March by John Williams, Darth Vader’s theme song, and chants of Beetlejuice in reference to Rep. Lauren Boebert’s conduct during a performance of the show.

Police presence has multiplied as many protesters and counterprotesters crowd around the area. Dozens of people at the encampment have left U-Yard to observe.

Several demonstrators held a black sign stating “Hands Off DC,” in yellow letters.

The Georgetown professor continued lecturing to students while they walked through the encampment.

Updated: 2:34 p.m. — Press gather outside encampment

About 15 news cameras are set up on the corner of H and 21st streets, next to U-Yard. The gaggle of press will record the U.S. House officials visiting the encampment Wednesday afternoon and will hold a press conference at outside before heading in. 

 Updated: 2:16 p.m. — Students begin teach-in as U.S., GW officials prepare for walkthrough

At around 2 p.m., an organizer asked all students at the encampment to gather to hear from a Georgetown professor.

Students sat in a circle at the southwest corner of the encampment.

Updated: 1:59 p.m. — House members arrive at GW

Several members of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee entered administration offices at 1922 F Street via the 20th Street entrance at about 1:55 p.m. Wednesday. 

University President Ellen Granberg and Provost Chris Bracey entered the building minutes before their arrival.

Updated 2:10 p.m. — GW for Israel, Jewish Students’ Association to host “rally against campus antisemitism”

GW for Israel and the Jewish Students’ Association will host a “rally against campus antisemitism” in the G Street Park across from Duques Hall Thursday morning, the organizations posted on Instagram. 

The organizations are calling on community members to rally for “Jewish Pride” at a rally at 11 a.m., in an Instagram post Wednesday. 

“Come support Jewish students,” the post reads.

GW for Israel launched a petition Tuesday asking community members to sign a request for the Metropolitan Police Department to clear the now-seven-day long pro-Palestinian encampment in University Yard, citing instances of antisemitism and threats of violence against Jewish students. The petition garnered more than 300 signatures in 2 hours, GWI Vice President Sean Shekhman said Tuesday.

There are Jewish students inside the “Liberation Camp” in U-Yard. Organizers hosted a Shabbat dinner on Friday and have had discussions about interfaith solidarity.

Updated 1:44 p.m. — Bowser to respond to House Oversight Committee invitation

Bowser said during a press conference Wednesday morning that she would review the invitation from the Oversight Committee. 

“I understand that a notice went out as I was standing here, and I will review that, and the city will definitely have a response,” she said.

She said she also reviewed a letter sent from a pair of congressional Republicans on Tuesday. The letter, from Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), criticized MPD’s reported refusal to clear the GW encampment.

“I thought [the letter] was interesting. Now, the members have universities in their own districts, especially the member from North Carolina, and I was watching a lot of activity in North Carolina. It would seem that her energy was misplaced there.”

Updated 1:22 p.m. — Counterprotester escorted from encampment

About 15 demonstrators linked arms around the George Washington statue at around 1 p.m. after a counterprotester entered the encampment. The counterprotester was escorted out by two Metropolitan Police Department officers by about 1:05 p.m. 

“I’m just going to advise you to consider if you want to come back,” one of the MPD officers told the counter protester. 

The counter protester walked west down H street minutes later, leaving the protest. 

Updated 11:42 a.m. — House Republicans to tour GW encampment at 3 p.m.

The walkthrough today is set for 3 p.m. and will include Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY), Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Eric Burlison (R-MO) and potentially additional members.

Following their conversation with University officials, the members of the GOP will speak with the press at the corner of 21st and H streets before touring the encampment, according to a House media advisory. 

Updated 11:28 a.m. — House committee calls on Bowser, MPD chief to testify next week

The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability will call on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith to testify next Wednesday at 1 p.m., a committee spokesperson said Wednesday.

The hearing is titled “Oversight of D.C.’s Response to Unlawful Activity and Antisemitism” and committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) plans to announce more details soon, the spokesperson said.  

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said in a statement that he is “deeply concerned” over reports that the Metropolitan Police Department rejected a request from the University to remove the “radical, antisemitic, and unlawful” protesters from University Yard. 

Comer said the Committee plans to ask local officials about the steps they will take to ensure the “unlawful” activity at the encampment ends.

“MPD’s refusal to assist GWU in their efforts to protect the Jewish student body is disturbing and unacceptable,” Comer said in the statement. 

Congress has called several university leaders to testify about antisemitism on college campuses around the war in Gaza, including Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, who called New York Police Department officers to clear its pro-Palestinian encampment after her appearance in mid-April.

Bowser and MPD officials would likely be the first non-university officials that Congress has asked to testify on encampments on college campuses. The last time Bowser and other city leaders testified before Congress was in May 2023 over concerns about rising crime rates in the District. 

The call to testify comes after Comer and House Committee on Education and Labor Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to Bowser and MPD Chief Pamela Smith Tuesday, demanding answers on the department’s refusal to assist GW in clearing the encampment. 

MPD officers were preparing to arrest protesters in the encampment early Friday morning but were called off by senior officials in MPD and the mayor’s office due to the demonstration remaining peaceful, The Washington Post reported late Friday afternoon. 

“Chairman Comer and I are talking about what to do next,” Foxx told The Hatchet outside the House floor on Tuesday, referencing Congress oversight over D.C. due to the District’s lack of statehood.

The mayor’s office and GW officials met Tuesday to discuss the encampment. A spokesperson from the mayor’s office did not return a request for comment asking for information on the details of the meeting. 

Oversight Committee members will also be meeting with GW officials and taking a walking tour through the University’s campus Wednesday afternoon to view the encampment.  

Over the past two days, since overrunning GW barricades blocking off University Yard Sunday night, demonstrators have slowed their chants, holding more events like teach-ins, movie screenings and safety demonstrations. There are more than 150 protesters consistently inside the encampment, which still occupies a portion of H Street and now all of U-Yard.

Updated 10:41 a.m. — Members of Congress to visit encampment Wednesday, Punchbowl News reports

House Committee Oversight members will walk through the GW encampment Wednesday, according to Punchbowl News. 

Punchbowl founder Jake Sherman reported in a post on X that committee Chair Rep. James Comer (R-KY) also “signaled he’ll probe” why the Metropolitan Police Department has not cleared the encampment. 

MPD officers were preparing to arrest protesters in the encampment early Friday morning but were called off by senior officials in MPD and the mayor’s office due to the “optics” of clearing a peaceful demonstration, The Washington Post reported late Friday afternoon.

Updated 8:02 a.m. — GWPD officers replace some security guards at U-Yard posts

The University appears to have relocated some of the security guards that kept watch over University Yard and its surrounding buildings earlier this week, replacing the guards with GW Police Department officers at the posts this morning. 

GWPD officers are guarding entrances to Corcoran, Bell and Lisner halls, with an additional four officers split between the H Street intersections at 20th and 21st streets. 

A GW security guard said Sunday that officials relocated guards to watch over the buildings surrounding U-Yard, removing them from their usual perches in campus residence halls. It appears as though some guards have returned to their posts at residence halls as of Wednesday morning. 

Three officers from Metropolitan Protective Services Inc., a security guard company, were stationed outside of District House Tuesday afternoon.

Updated 6:11 a.m. — Staff arrive, protesters wake

Protesters began to exit their tents and disassemble their hammocks around 5:44 a.m. Broadcast reporters arrived about the same time, running through scripts for their news package on the encampment.

Three GW Police Department officers strolled into U-Yard around 6 a.m., each carrying a bag or box full of snacks. At the northwest entrance, a facilities worker emptied a recycling bin and trash bin, chock full to the point where it could not completely close.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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