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Live coverage: MPD arrests more than 30 protesters, D.C. officials say

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Local police cleared the pro-Palestinian encampment in University Yard Wednesday morning as the protest entered its second week. 

Hundreds of Metropolitan Police Department officers descended on H Street in the early hours of the morning to clear the encampment and arrested at more than 30 protesters, according to MPD Chief Pamela Smith. Police made arrests for “assault of a police officer” and “unlawful entry,” according to an MPD statement Wednesday morning.

At least two officers deployed pepper spray on protesters, who then set up an impromptu medical area on Pennsylvania Avenue between 21st and 20th streets outside of Western Market. Due to closure of the 24/7 campus CVS due to the clearing, organizers ran to Wawa to buy water to rinse their eyes.

The MPD statement said the department worked “closely” with GW administration in their clearing. Despite the use of pepper spray, clashes between protesters and police and more than 30 arrests, the University released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying local police conducted an “orderly and safe” operation to clear the University Yard encampment early Wednesday.

A Hatchet reporter on scene exited the encampment upon MPD’s final warning that everyone remaining in the encampment would face arrest. No media were inside U-Yard to record the arrests, and police vans on the street and officers’ requests to move away from the sidewalks obstructed reporters’ view of the scene from outside the encampment.

On Tuesday, student protesters repeatedly denounced University President Ellen Granberg’s alleged refusal to meet with organizers on their demands. Granberg said in a statement Sunday that officials have engaged in “regular and sustained dialogues” with student protesters and called for the support of the District and GW’s other partners in managing the encampment, which she called “potentially dangerous.”

The clearing follows the city’s refusal to initially clear the encampment upon GW’s request last Friday, a decision that members of Congress have responded to with ire. Early Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee canceled their hearing scheduled Wednesday afternoon with Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD Chief Pamela Smith about their rejection of GW’s initial request.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. If you have a tip or want to share your experience, please email [email protected].

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Updated: Wednesday at 11:16 p.m. — Fencing installed around entrances to U-Yard

At about 8:30 p.m. a truck from the Long Fence company arrived with fences that were set up around the entrances to U-Yard. The company previously installed temporary fencing around the Capitol.

Updated: Wednesday at 10:08 p.m. — Workers throw out prayer mats, books from encampment

Among the items from the encampment that workers threw out in garbage trucks Wednesday morning were prayer mats and Qurans from the encampment library, according to images students posted online. 

Those were among the dozens of belongings workers threw out from around the U-Yard encampment after police cleared it, including tents, hammocks, books and clothes. 

GW, which owns U-Yard, appears to have opted to throw out all the items left behind in the plaza. Metropolitan Police Department officers said on a sign posted onto H Street that people who had left items on the 2000 block of H Street could contact the Evidence Control Division for retrieval.

Updated: Wednesday at 8:39 p.m. — Granberg, Bracey issue statement on arrests

Hours after local police arrested more than 30 protesters and used pepper spray and physical force on several more, top University leaders said they’re focused on maintaining a “safe and secure” campus as students inch closer to summer break and Commencement.

University President Ellen Granberg and Provost Chris Bracey said in the statement to community members Wednesday that the intervention of hundreds of police officers on campus was the result “behavior and actions” of pro-Palestinian protesters in University Yard. It was the second statement from the University Wednesday after an unsigned GW statement earlier in the day called the operation “orderly and safe” despite clashes between police and students as authorities arrested demonstrators in the early morning. 

They said they will “continue to pursue accountability” for the demonstrators involved. Throughout the nearly two week-long protest, officials have suspended eight students for their involvement in the encampment, organizers have said. 

“It pains us that these actions were necessary, and we recognize that many members of our community on all sides are hurting right now,” Granberg and Bracey said in their statement.

Officials also repeated their condemnation of the encampment and some incidents they said occurred during the protest. Without naming specific events, the pair claimed protesters harassed people based on their beliefs, assaulted police officers, illegally occupied and destroyed GW property, and displayed violent imagery. They said these reported actions “required significant police intervention.” 

From the start of the protest on April 25, GW officials called on the Metropolitan Police Department to clear the encampment, which police initially declined to do because the protest remained peaceful, the Washington Post reported. 

The pair thanked local police and officials for their support in “regaining order and safety” in University Yard, about 12 hours after officers used pepper spray and physical force on students to clear the encampment and arrest 33 pro-Palestinian protesters. They also thanked GW Police Department officers, security guards and maintenance personnel. 

Officials said they were recommitting to “constructive dialogue and collaboration” with students, faculty, staff and alumni. The statement did not include mention of the protesters’ demands, including divesting from companies with ties to Israel, disclosing all endowments and investments, discontinuing all academic partnerships with Israel, dropping all suspensions against student protesters and protecting pro-Palestinian speech. 

The statement also did not say whether officials plan to meet with pro-Palestinian student organizers in the future to discuss and negotiate on their demands, as administrators have done at other schools like Northwestern and Brown universities, where protesters ended their encampments without arrests. Protesters have repeatedly said Granberg has refused to meet with organizers’ negotiating team.

“These activities and their underlying causes have created deep fissures in our community that will take time to heal,” the statement said. “We both recognize that there is still a long road ahead.”

The statement did not mention Israel or Gaza. 

In the long term, we must begin to rebuild our mutual respect and understanding of one another and re-establish the balance between our community’s right to protest and our commitment to our academic mission,” they wrote.

Updated: Wednesday at 7:32 p.m. — GW faculty, staff sign petition condemning encampment clearing

A group of GW faculty and staff is circulating a petition addressed to University President Ellen Granberg and the Board of Trustees that condemns the Metropolitan Police Department’s clearing of the encampment and the subsequent arrests of protesters. 

The group, who dubbed themselves the GWU Faculty and Staff Against Criminalization of GWU Students, said they are “horrified” by the use of police force against “sleeping students” at the encampment. The group said while they hold many different views about the protest, they are united in rejecting a “punitive response” to student political expression. 

“Instead of responding to civil disobedience with force, we urge the University instead to protect all students and deal peacefully with protests,” the petition reads, which has received more than 120 signatures as of 7:30 p.m.

The petition demands that GW drop criminal charges against arrested students and that they do not pursue disciplinary action against students for “nonviolent acts” of civil disobedience.

They petition also demands that faculty be involved in decisions about how to respond to student protest, in line with the principles of shared governance. 

Updated: Wednesday at 6:12 p.m. — Protesters hold rally outside District House

At about 4:50 p.m. about 15 pro-Palestinian student protesters started walking in a circle and chanting on the sidewalk outside of District House on H Street, less than a block from the site of the original encampment in U-Yard. 

One demonstrator held a megaphone while another led chants through the megaphone.

“We are the students, the mighty, mighty students, standing up for Gaza,” demonstrators chanted. 

Three protesters wore shirts for Unite Here Local 23, a hospitality union that represents food service workers on college campuses like GW, and one demonstrator stood across the street passing out a zine that detailed the clearing of the encampment Wednesday morning and the union’s solidarity with student demonstrators. 

“The continued Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing in Palestine is a labor issue, and not just for the workers of Palestine, whose workplaces have been bombed, and who have not seen a paycheck since the heavy invasions began,” the zine states. 

“Students and workers unite, one struggle, one fight,” the protesters chanted. 

A student named Julian, who didn’t share his last name, thanked dining hall workers for coming to the protest and said the war in Gaza is also a labor issue. The student added that the University “wasn’t expecting” dining hall workers from Shenkman and District halls to be participating in the protest.

“There’s no outside agitators here, these are students and workers at this University,” they said.

A man joined the protest holding a sign that read “Israel has no history only a criminal record. FREE PALESTINE.” 

Three GW Police Department officers and four Metropolitan Police Department officers watched the protest from across the street. At about 5:03 p.m. a GWPD officer spoke with two protesters wearing yellow vests for about a minute, the officer departed and the protest continued. 

By about 5:45 p.m. the protest had grown to include about 25 demonstrators.

At about 6 p.m., a man set up a table selling keffiyehs next to the protest and Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce watched the protest from the H Street terrace of the University Student Center for a few minutes.

At 6:02 p.m., a demonstrator announced that the protest had ended for the day.

“Get home safe everybody,” they said.

Updated: Wednesday at 5:02 p.m. — Members of D.C. Council condemn encampment clearing

At-Large D.C. Councilmember Robert White Jr. and Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George posted on X on Wednesday to condemn the Metropolitan Police Department’s clearing of the University Yard encampment.

White said in a statement that shutting down the encampment is a “stain” on the District and on democracy. He said protesters are “clear-eyed” about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza where people are starving and the Israeli military’s bombardment has killed thousands of civilians. He said the protest was “completely peaceful” when he visited the encampment late last week, adding that arrested students deserve better than their current situation.

“When I spoke with students, they made space for multiple truths at the same time, mourning the tragedy of the October 7th Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and refusing to accept the ongoing murders of innocent people in Gaza,” White said in the statement. 

White’s statement did not name D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser or the MPD, who were responsible for the encampment’s clearing. 

George said the District is supposed to be a stronghold for protest and the exercise of First Amendment rights.

“Cracking down on campus protestors to appease MAGA Republicans in Congress is wrong and sets an incredibly dangerous precedent for our city,” George said in her statement.

The organization DC for Ceasefire Now Coalition posted on Instagram that more than 50 local advocacy groups and businesses were calling on the D.C. Council to support the encampment, denounce MPD’s clearing and introduce a cease-fire resolution. The statement was co-signed by groups like the Baldwin House, Busboys and Poets and Black Lives Matter DC.

“Urge the D.C. Council to publicly announce their support of DMV students and the Palestinian people through public statements and a ceasefire resolution,” he said. 

A spokesperson for D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson did not immediately return a request for comment on if the body planned to inquire into Bowser and MPD’s decision to clear the encampment.

Updated: Wednesday at 3:07 p.m. — GW for Israel releases statement in support of clearing 

GW for Israel released a statement on Instagram Wednesday afternoon commending the Metropolitan Police Department’s decision to shut down the pro-Palestinian University Yard encampment. 

The post states that MPD’s decision to disband the encampment took “far too long” but will “restore order” and keep Jewish and pro-Israel students safe on campus. The statement thanked MPD and GW Police Department officers for responding to the “threat to public safety.” 

The statement cites vandalized property, forced street closures and alleged threats to University administrators as examples of the demonstrations’ disruption of “public order.”

University President Ellen Granberg alleged in a message to community members Sunday that demonstrators vandalized the George Washington statue and flag in U-Yard. MPD closed H Street on the second day of the encampment. 

A video during a faux trial Friday, which condemned University officials for their alleged suppression of pro-Palestinian speech, showed demonstrators chanting “Guillotine, guillotine” and “Off to the motherf*cking gallows” in reference to Provost Chris Bracey. 

“Protests that call for the genocide of Jewish students and beheading of campus administrators are not peaceful,” the statement reads. 

Updated: Wednesday at 2:47 p.m. — Students, local activists condemn encampment clearing in press conference 

Students and organizers condemned the Metropolitan Police Department’s clearing of the University Yard encampment during a press conference hosted by a D.C. advocacy group Wednesday afternoon.

During the press conference hosted by Hands Off D.C. — an advocacy group for D.C. statehood — students, alumni and local activists denounced the University’s lack of support for pro-Palestinian demonstrators, as well as MPD’s use of force in clearing the encampment. Speakers delivered statements standing in solidarity with encampment protesters, especially those arrested Wednesday morning. 

A student, who a demonstrator introduced as Noor, said they were arrested in Wednesday morning’s sweep and that protesters remained open to negotiations with University President Ellen Granberg and Provost Chris Bracey throughout the encampment. They said protesters reject the idea that GW and MPD had no other option but to clear the demonstration.

“They can mace us, they can brutalize us, they can pepper spray us,” the student said. “But the movement is here. It is stronger than ever. Our energy has not dissipated.”

A representative from GW Alumni for Justice in Palestine said the encampment sweep early Wednesday morning demonstrates that University President Ellen Granberg and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser put a “commitment to genocide” above the safety of GW students and D.C. residents. She said alumni in the group have been providing “spiritual support” to the students at the encampment since its start. 

“The tactics used last night were disgusting, shameful, but not at all surprising,” the GW alum said. 

The representative added that she is the parent of an incoming first-year student at the University of Marlyand, and that GW Alumni for Justice in Palestine will continue to stand in solidarity with pro-Palestinian student demonstrators in the D.C. region. 

“The actions of the police last night has not succeeded in suppressing our world outrage,” the alum said. “They have always succeeded in making our resolve stronger.”

A Palestinian-American D.C. resident, who was born in Gaza and has family in the region, said he has lost more than 100 members of his family during the war. He said his daughter attends GW, but he wishes she attended a different university because of officials’ handling of the conflict on campus.

“It’s a sad day on many levels,” he said. “Today they proved and confirmed that democracy is selective. It’s only for a certain group of people.”

This post was updated to correct the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the student self-identified themself. An organizer introduced the student as Noor and later used a second name that The Hatchet was unable to verify. We regret this error. 

Updated: Wednesday at 2:01 p.m. —  GW releases statement on clearing

Despite the use of pepper spray, clashes between protesters and police and more than 30 arrests, the University released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying local police conducted an “orderly and safe” operation to clear the University Yard encampment early Wednesday.

The statement said most protesters “heeded” direction from Metropolitan Police Department officers to exit the encampment after warnings from police and officers arrested the remaining demonstrators, who now face charges that include assault on a police officer and unlawful entry. The University said MPD, the GW Police Department and security personnel continue to maintain a presence across campus.

The statement did not mention police’s deployment of pepper spray or address recordings that appear to show MPD officers shoving and punching protesters at the barricades they made with bikes. 

Just before 4 a.m., hundreds of police officers surrounded U-Yard where a group of about 20 protesters sat in a circle, arms linked, chanting “Free, free Palestine.” During the clearing, MPD officers set up a barricade surrounding U-Yard, preventing protesters and media who left the encampment under threat of arrest from re-entering and documenting the events in U-Yard.

At least two MPD officers used pepper spray on demonstrators who had left the encampment and were protesting the arrests from the outside, leading protesters to set up an impromptu medical area to rinse people’s eyes. In an Instagram post, organizers of the encampment posted a video that shows MPD officers shoving and punching protesters rallying at their bicycle barricade. Officers also pepper sprayed a Hatchet photographer and editor who were in the crowd of demonstrators reporting on the altercation.

GW Emergency Medical Response Group responders were on scene at the impromptu medical area.

A GW Hospital spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on whether students had checked into the facility following the arrests. 

“We do not have any reports of serious injuries during this operation,” the University’s email reads. The statement did not specify whether minor injuries were reported. 

The statement said despite GW staff having cleared University Yard, the plaza will remain closed through the end of Commencement, along with Kogan Plaza. The University reiterated that campus remains open and functioning, and final exams are proceeding as scheduled.

Updated: Wednesday at 1:28 p.m. — GW parents condemn arrests, send letter to trustees

GW parents sent a letter to Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights on Wednesday morning that calls for the firing of top University officials and amnesty for arrested protesters after the encampment clearing.

The letter, signed by nearly 80 parents of GW students, calls on trustees to condemn the University’s handling of the encampment and terminate University President Ellen Granberg and Provost Chris Bracey. It also calls on the Board to demand that the Metropolitan Police Department drop charges against the arrested students, reverse the suspension of students who demonstrated and allow students to make up final exams missed due to protesting. 

The letter restates a number of student protesters’ original demands for the University, including the disclosure and divestment from companies that provide weapons to Israel and the protection of pro-Palestinian speech on campus.

“The current administration’s botched response culminated in the unnecessary and dangerous police raid on GW students on the morning of May 8th,” the letter states. 

Protesters and GW parents discussed the letter at a press conference held at the Council on American-Islamic Relations Center on Wednesday at noon, about eight hours after MPD cleared the encampment and arrested protesters. 

Hala Amer, a GW parent who said at the conference that her child participated in the protest but was not arrested, said parents have lost “all trust” in the University. 

“The University this morning showed that they would rather unleash brutal police force upon our children than treat them with respect and negotiate with them in good faith,” Amer said. 

Amer said student demonstrators have risked their education, careers and safety to peacefully protest and oppose Israel’s assault on Gaza, which Palestinian and U.N. officials said has led to the killing of more than 34,000 Palestinians and a “full-blown” famine in northern Gaza. 

“Parents are furious that the millions of dollars we pay in tuition and housing every year are complicit in war crimes against our will,” Amer said.

Amr Madkour, a GW assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, said he has family members in Gaza and is concerned by the unfolding crisis. He said he was “humbled” by students’ dedication to resisting “the oppression of Palestinians” and oppression at their institutions. 

“I was so touched by what our students at GW were able to produce, in terms of a peaceful and incredibly disciplined and well-organized protest on our campus,” Madkour said. “I’ve seen it myself, I’ve been there myself.”

Madkour said students demonstrating compassion to those oppressed have been met with “tyranny” and have not had opportunities to negotiate. 

“I come here with a broken heart,” Madkour said. “I’m devastated that our administration chose this route, bringing in police in the middle of the night.”

Peter Calloway, a visiting associate professor of clinical law at GW Law, said he was proud to be among the faculty supporting student demonstrators and hoped the University and police would “do the right thing.”

“I hope they let this peaceful protest blossom so that we can put an end to this genocide once and for all,” Calloway said. 

Updated: Wednesday at 12:43 p.m. — Hours later, GW officials silent on arrests

GW officials have remained silent in the hours after Metropolitan Police Department officers cleared the pro-Palestinian encampment in U-Yard. 

University President Ellen Granberg’s last message was on Sunday, when she called the encampment “potentially dangerous” and again asked for police assistance in clearing it. Before the arrests, Granberg did not make any announcements telling community members that police were on their way. 

A University spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment over questions surrounding the encampment’s clearing. 

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at the press conference that she had not spoken with Granberg on Tuesday night or Wednesday, but that D.C. officials have been in “constant contact” with GW throughout the process. Granberg and Bowser met last week, but officials have declined to comment on what the specifics of that meeting entailed.

Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer

Updated: Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. — Coalition says all protesters released from jail

At 11:53 a.m., GW Student Coalition for Palestine posted an Instagram story stating that all of the protest’s “comrades” have been released from jail and that jail support is no longer needed. The post added that the community holds “all the power.”

“Redirect your focus to Gaza,” the post reads. “Redirect your focus to Rafah.”

Updated: Wednesday at 11:40 a.m. — 11 more protesters released from MPD processing

At 10:30 a.m. outside the police academy, MPD released about 11 more people from processing. 

Protesters rushed from the parking lot to the top of the street to meet the 11 people, which brings the total count to about 26. They remained at the top of the street for about 10 minutes, embracing each other and chanting “oink oink” as MPD cars drove by. 

Protesters and press appeared to be leaving the area outside the police academy as of 11:30 a.m.

Updated: Wednesday at 11:34 a.m. — Protesters attempted to enter restricted buildings, MPD says

Metropolitan Police Department Executive Assistant Chief of Police Jeffery Carroll said during Wednesday’s press conference that officers saw an escalation in the U-Yard protests leading up to MPD’s clearing of the encampment, like indications that protesters attempted to enter restricted buildings. 

He said officers found a group of individuals in a University facility on Tuesday and claimed that protesters had allegedly assaulted a police officer and were potentially gathering weapons within the encampment. He said MPD’s further “intelligence,” as well as cases at other universities across the country, prompted officials to decide to clear the encampment. 

The Hatchet was not immediately able to verify Carroll’s claims.

The University placed the Foggy Bottom Campus on “GWorld Safety Mode” on the first day of the encampment, locking all GWorld readers and requiring community members who regularly have access to campus buildings to tap to enter.

“That’s what really caused us to change our posture to ensure that we maintain the safety, not only for the demonstrators of their encampment, students at the University, but also the community as well,” Carroll said. 

Carroll claimed there were “messages” left inside the encampment that alerted MPD officials that there were “covert counter-demonstrators” that had been in the area. He said online posts indicated that individuals from other schools like Columbia University planned to join GW’s encampment and may have already been there. 

He said detained individuals are still being processed, and MPD will work to confirm their identities before coordinating with the University to determine whether the protesters are students. 

Updated: Wednesday at 10:35 a.m. — U-Yard encampment cleared of all tents, belongings

MPD officers and other workers cleared the U-Yard encampment of all tents, sleeping bags and belongings by about 10:05 a.m. Workers fed tents into a garbage truck on H Street, while other workers picked up belongings and placed them into a bin, which they wheeled down to the garbage truck for disposal.

Workers also placed a gray sheet over the George Washington statue, which protesters adorned with a keffiyeh and a Palestinian flag, toward the front of U-Yard.

Kaiden J. Yu | Assistant Photo Editor
Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer

Updated: Wednesday at 10:03 a.m. — More protesters released

At about 9:05 a.m., about nine people who MPD arrested and processed left the police academy and ran down Blue Plains Drive towards the parking lot, bringing the total count of released protesters to about 15. The protesters ran from the parking lot into the road to meet other demonstrators chanting “Comrades, comrades you made us proud.”

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Updated: Wednesday at 9:52 a.m. — Committee hearing canceled

After police’s clearing of the University Yard encampment, House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer (R-KY) has canceled the committee’s hearing on D.C.’s initial refusal to clear the space scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

During a press conference before the cancellation, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Comer said he supported officials in focusing on the District’s ongoing response to the encampment’s clearing. Comer said the committee has canceled their hearing due to D.C.’s clearing of the encampment in a statement later Wednesday morning.

The committee last week called on Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith to testify at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday on why they refused GW’s request to clear the encampment on the second day of the protest. 

“Congressman Comer indicated that he thought our energies today should be on our ongoing operations,” Bowser said during the press conference. “I agreed.”

Bowser said at the press conference that she had not spoken with University President Ellen Granberg on Wednesday or on Tuesday night, but that D.C. officials have been in “constant contact” with GW throughout the process. 

Comer said in a statement last week he was “deeply concerned” over the MPD’s initial refusal to sweep the “radical, antisemitic, and unlawful” protesters from the U-Yard encampment. Comer and four other congressional Republicans visited the encampment on Thursday. 

“I thanked [Bowser] for finally clearing the trespassers off the GW campus,” Comer said in his statement. “It was unfortunate that the situation at GW forced the Oversight Committee to act; however it was apparent that the D.C. police force was not going to do their job.”

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA), a member of the committee, said in a tweet Wednesday morning that Comer canceled the hearing because he doesn’t want Democrats to call out “GOP hypocrisy” and Republicans’ lack of condemnation of “real protests” like the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Kaiden J. Yu | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated: Wednesday at 9:45 a.m. — More than 30 protesters arrested, D.C. officials say

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested more than 30 protesters under charges including unlawful entry and assault of a police officer, D.C. officials said in a press conference Wednesday morning.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith said officials made the decision to clear the encampment on Monday after MPD became concerned about the protest becoming “more volatile and less stable.” She said 29 protesters were charged with unlawful entry and three students were charged with assault of a police officer. 

Smith said the encampment protests began “very peacefully,” but began to escalate within the past few days. She cited alleged confrontations between police officers and protesters, like protesters allegedly pushing a GW Police Department officer Thursday and grabbing an item from an officer’s hand. 

Protesters raised a Palestinian flag over U-Yard on Thursday, after officers struggled to maintain control of the flagpole outside Lisner Hall. Early Friday morning, GWPD officers removed the American and Palestinian flags hanging in front of Lisner, cutting the ropes to the two flagpoles.

She said MPD learned of more details on Monday of possible escalation, and officials began to prepare to clear the encampment Tuesday night. 

“This included a simple assault reported to GW police, security probing of a GW building, indicators that counter-demonstrators were covertly in the encampment, and information that protesters from other schools were traveling to GW,” Smith said. “In addition, items that could potentially be used for offensive and defensive weapons were being gathered.”

The Hatchet was not immediately able to verify Smith’s claims of students traveling to GW, the presence of counterprotesters inside the encampment and protesters’ alleged collection of weapons.

Smith said MPD officers delivered multiple warnings to the encampment, allowing protesters to clear the area. She said as additional protesters gathered around the perimeter of the encampment and “engaged” with officers at the intersection between 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, where officers deployed pepper spray on the crowd. 

“Moving forward, MPD will continue to be supportive of universities or other private entities who need assistance,” Smith said.

Updated: Wednesday at 8:10 a.m. — Police guard H Street 

At around 7:20 p.m., police continue to guard H Street in front of yellow police tape line, two police cruisers and metal barricades blocking off the portion of the street that borders U-Yard. At least 14 officers are on the 21st Street side of H Street, and about a dozen more are gathered in the center of the street behind the barricades.

Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce was seen briefly outside the barricades. 

Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer

Updated: Wednesday at 7:45 a.m. — Arrested demonstrators arrive at MPD academy

At 7:02 a.m., a Metropolitan Police Department van pulled into a parking lot across from the police academy in southwest D.C, where about 35 protesters have now gathered. An MPD officer opened the van’s door and let out four people holding trash bags and papers that list their charges. 

The people in the van, who were not handcuffed, appeared to be students. One protester who was previously detained and then released from the van said arrested protesters were getting court dates assigned and that there were more protesters currently being processed. He said he didn’t know how many people were arrested.

Some demonstrators approached the four people to ask how they are doing or to see if they could call anyone for them. Other demonstrators on scene talked quietly amongst themselves, hugging and passing out water.

One demonstrator, who brought about 10 phones that were left at the encampment, is trying to identify who they belong to.

At 7:36 a.m., another van pulled into the parking lot and two more protesters exited the van holding papers and chanting “Free, free Palestine.”

“Comrades made us proud, Comrades comrades shut sh*t down,” demonstrators chanted as a few people embraced the two people who were detained.

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Updated: Wednesday at 6:54 a.m. — Organizers call for police’s release of arrested demonstrators

About 15 protesters have gathered outside the Metropolitan Police Academy in southwest D.C., where officers are reportedly taking arrested demonstrators for processing. A post from the DMV Palestinian Youth Movement states that more than 30 people have been arrested.

The post encourages protesters to call the MPD’s phone number and rally outside the academy to demand demonstrators’ release. 

“They arrested dozens of students as they were sleeping,” the post’s caption reads. “The community rallied around the students and were met with exceptional brutality, assaulted, pepper sprayed, and arrested.”

Updated: Wednesday at 6:11 a.m. — MPD releases statement

The Metropolitan Police Department made arrests for “assault on a police officer” and “unlawful entry,” according to a statement from an MPD spokesperson at about 6 a.m.

MPD Supervisory Public Affairs Specialist Tom Lynch said police made the arrests after moving to disperse demonstrators from the encampment Wednesday morning following a “gradual escalation in the volatility” of the demonstration based on “incidents and information.”  

“Therefore, this morning, working closely with the GW administration and police, MPD moved to disperse the demonstrators from the GW campus and surrounding streets,” Lynch said in an email. 

The statement said MPD first worked to pursue “non-arrest methods” to de-escalate tensions in the encampment and ensure the safety of GW’s students and campus.

Lynch declined to comment on how many students were arrested and if the encampment is currently cleared of all students. A spokesperson earlier Wednesday morning said police have arrested more than a dozen protesters, but declined to give an exact number. 

“MPD will continue to be supportive of universities or other private entities who need assistance,” the statement reads.

Updated: Wednesday at 5:04 a.m. — Tate enters cleared encampment

GW Police Department Chief James Tate entered the now-cleared U-Yard encampment at about 5:52. Police block clear views from the street, but the encampment appears to be empty, except for remaining tents.

A letter from police regarding protesters’ belongings claimed during the sweep is taped to a pole on H Street outside the encampment.

The letter said the Metropolitan Police Department collected “various items of property” from the 2000 Block of Street, and directed people requesting to claim the items to contact the department’s Evidence Control Division. The letter states that MPD will dispose of any unclaimed property after 90 days.

Updated: Wednesday at 5:04 a.m. — MPD spokesperson said stalled negotiations not a factor in clearing of encampment

An MPD spokesperson on scene referenced University President Ellen Granberg’s Sunday letter as the reasoning for police’s clearing.

Granberg called for the “full support” of GW’s partners and the city in her letter to the community Sunday. She said all of GW’s efforts to end the encampment, including discussions with students, the assistance of local police and administrative consequences, have failed. Protesters brought a table before Granberg’s on-campus residence on F Street Tuesday night to demand she engage in negotiations with their team after alleging her continued refusal to communicate with them directly.

A University spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. No University officials have been seen on scene since MPD’s announcement to clear at about 3:30 Wednesday.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD Chief Pamela Smith are expected to testify at a House Oversight Committee meeting later today about why the city refused to clear the encampment on the second day of the two-week-long protest.

A power washing truck is cleaning chalk off of H Street outside the encampment, where demonstrators have pitched tents for nearly two weeks. An MPD van and truck still block the street, but roughly 20 officers on bikes exited the scene at about 5 a.m. About five students watch in silence.

About 50 people remain gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue, where organizers give demonstrators instructions on how to treat irritation from pepper spray.

Updated: 10:34 a.m. — A prior version of this post included a statement from an MPD spokesperson on scene who said “The decision was made after there was a feeling that GW’s negotiations with students weren’t getting anywhere.” The Hatchet removed this quote after the spokesperson later said communication between officials and protesters were never a factor in MPD’s clearing of the encampment.

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Updated: Wednesday at 5:34 a.m. — MPD is done clearing encampment, one officer says

One MPD officers on scene said he believes the department is finished clearing the U-Yard encampment. A spokesperson said at about 5 a.m. that police have arrested more than a dozen people, but declined to say how many. It’s unclear how many are students.

Police continue to block off many surrounding intersections, including by using their bikes to block off H and 21st streets. Other than the truck washing chalk off H Street, the scene at U-Yard appears quiet, though police continue to block off the area.

Updated: Wednesday at 5:00 a.m. — Protesters head to Wawa for water

Protesters in need of water to rinse the pepper spray from their eyes are unable to buy it at the nearby CVS because the 24-hour business is closed due to the clearing. Organizers have asked protesters who weren’t sprayed to go to the nearest Wawa gas station to purchase water for other demonstrators.

Updated: Wednesday at 4:55 a.m. — MPD arrests more than a dozen protesters, spokesperson says

A Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson confirmed more than a dozen protesters have been arrested in the encampment, but declined to provide an exact number.

A police officer on scene was heard telling a legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer that roughly 20 demonstrators were arrested.

Protesters on Pennsylvania Avenue continue to yell at crowds of police lining the street.

“We smell bacon,” one protester yelled at a police officer.

At about 4:45 a.m., the GW Emergency Medical Response Group arrived on scene in an ambulance and a cruiser. An organizer advised protesters to go to the hospital with EMeRG if they need additional medical attention.

Traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue reopened to cars around 4:45 a.m.

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Updated: Wednesday at 4:25 a.m. — MPD pepper sprays protesters

At least two MPD officers deployed pepper spray on a crowd of demonstrators on H and 2oth streets. A protester on scene was seen throwing up, while others called for a medic.

A group of about 30 people are on Pennsylvania Avenue between 21st and 20th streets, where protesters have set up an impromptu medical area. At least half a dozen people appear to have been sprayed. Protesters pour water into the eyes of protesters. Many are coughing.

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Updated: Wednesday at 4:13 a.m. — MPD makes arrests, spokesperson says

An MPD spokesperson said at 4:13 a.m. the department has made arrests in the U-Yard encampment, and the clearing remains underway.

The spokesperson said they could not confirm the number of arrests, which they said were ongoing. Due to a heavy police presence limiting entrance or exit to the encampment, The Hatchet was unable to confirm how many protesters have been arrested.

After rallying for about 45 minutes, the crowd of protesters on H Street marched north up 21st Street. More than a dozen MPD officers tailed the protesters on bikes.

An officer on a police radio was heard making a call for more Flex Cuffs, or plastic hand restraints.

Updated: Wednesday at 4:00 a.m. — MPD prepares to clear encampment

Hundreds of Metropolitan Police Department officers are in U-Yard preparing to clear the encampment, where protesters were nearing their 14th day of occupying the yard and a strip of H Street.

Officers gave their first warning of arrest at about 3:24 a.m. and their second warning about two minutes later. An officer delivered the third and final warning at about 3:32 p.m., telling protesters they would arrest them if they were in U-Yard or the H Street strip between 20th Street and 21 Street.

Protesters began running around the encampment to wake each other up about 3:14 a.m., while officers began barricading off the intersection of H Street and 21st Street, preventing protesters from walking further into H Street. Dozens of protesters, who were originally in the encampment but cleared once officers appeared, retreated to the crosswalk chanting “MPD, KKK, IOF, they’re all the same” and “MPD you’re a coward, the students have all the power.”

An MPD spokesperson said at 3:43 a.m. that MPD is working to clear the encampment.

About 25 protesters remaining in U-Yard locked arms and sat in a circle in the center of the yard, chanting “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?”

Police are blocking off every street corner in about a block radius. As of about 4:00, it doesn’t appear as if officers have made any arrests as the crowd continues to gather.

Updated: Wednesday at 12:06 a.m. — Protesters return to tents, watch film after rally

After demonstrators concluded their rally at about 11 p.m., some prepared for Isha prayer near the southeast entrance of U-Yard, while others returned to their tents to rest for the night. A group of about 30 people gathered in front of a small, white screen to watch a viewing of “The Battle of Algiers,” a 1966 film about Algeria’s war of independence from French colonization. 

Updated: Tuesday at 10:56 p.m. — Demonstrators display new projections onto American flag

At around 10:30 p.m. demonstrators projected “Glory to the martyrs of Palestine,” onto the American flag in front of Lisner Hall after taking down the “Genocide Joe” projection about five minutes earlier.

The organizers proceeded to project about 10 different messages onto the flag like “Gaza lights the spark that will set the empire ablaze” “Down with the settler state” and “There is no flag large enough to cover up the shame of genocide.” 

Protesters continued to chant “Colonizers we don’t need them, what we want is total freedom,” “The people united will never be defeated” and “We’re not leaving.” 

Updated: Tuesday at 10:53 p.m. — Demonstrators to send letter to House Oversight Committee

Organizers announced at a rally Tuesday night they wrote a letter to submit to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, which is holding a hearing on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD’s response to the U-Yard encampment on Wednesday morning. 

The organizer read aloud the link to a Google form containing the letter, asking the crowd to sign the letter by filling out the form and sharing it with others. 

The letter states that protesters support the “liberation of Palestine,” and condemns House Republicans for calling on D.C. officials to shut down the encampment, which the letters states was “federal overreach.” The form will close 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The letter states that claims of antisemitism regarding the encampment are unsubstantiated because the protesters intend to combat all forms of oppression, including antisemitism. Jewish on Campus, a national organization that raises awareness of antisemitism on college campuses, posted images of signs reading “Students will leave when Israelis leave,” and “Students will go back home when Israelis go back to Europe, US, etc (their real homes)” on the encampment barricades on the third day of the demonstration.

The letter also states that many Jewish students are engaged with the demonstration and have hosted Shabbat services, as well as prayer services for other religions like Islam and Orthodox Christianity.

 “These claims are baseless, and seek to divert attention away from the devastating humanitarian crisis that our universities and our government are funding in Gaza,” the letter states. 

The letter states demonstrators have received support from professors, alumni, the greater D.C. community and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education.

“This show of solidarity, community, and devotion to justice is a testament to the collective power we wield and the resilience of the D.C. community,” the letter states. 

The letter concludes by calling on government leaders to commend the students and pro-Palestinian supports for their protest against America’s “complicity” in Israel’s offensive attack on Gaza. Israel attacked and took control of the Rafah border crossing Tuesday, which the UN said could cripple the inflow of aid into the region. 

“We urge you to stand in support with our community,” the letter states. 

Updated: Tuesday at 10:25 p.m. — Protesters return to encampment, re-project “Genocide Joe” onto American flag 

At around 9:50 p.m. a demonstrator set up a speaker at the front of the F Street House and demonstrators stopped chanting to hear a recording of a student in Gaza who described bombardments and thanked GW students for their resistance.

The recording lasted about five minutes, and after it finished demonstrators continued to chant “Granberg, Granberg you’re a coward, the students have the f*cking power.” 

A demonstrator then announced that she had a message for Granberg. 

“We’re going to take this out here right now as a specific, personal refusal from Granberg herself to refuse us any space to negotiate for divestment, disclosure or for the meeting of any of our demands,” the demonstrator said. 

At around 10 p.m. the demonstrators started to march back towards the encampment along 20th Street. 

At 10:09 p.m. the demonstrators returned to U-Yard from the northern entrance and marched back to the front of Lisner Hall.

“Disclose. Divest. We will not stop, we will not rest,”  demonstrators chanted as they reached the steps. 

Organizers then projected an image of President Joe Biden with “Genocide Joe” written beneath it onto the American flag hanging over Lisner Hall. The image had previously been projected onto the flag Thursday. 

Organizers took the projection down at 10:25 p.m. after the image was displayed for about ten minutes.

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Updated: Tuesday at 9:40 p.m. — Final All Out for Rafah rally speaker, demonstrators condemn Granberg outside F Street House 

At around 8:50 p.m. a representative from the encampment’s negotiation team stood outside of the F Street House and announced they would be the last speaker for the The All Out for Rafah rally.

As they prepared to speak, demonstrators set up a plastic table in front of the entrance to the F Street House.

The representative said Granberg has refused to respond to students’ requests for conversations about their demands. They said organizers brought the demonstration “to her doors” to prevent her from ignoring their voices. 

“The president of our University would rather call the police to force us out than simply come to the table,” the demonstrator said, referring to GW’s request to local police to clear the encampment last week. “But we have made it clear from the beginning that we are not leaving until our demands are met.”

Organizers have said repeatedly that Granberg, who has yet to appear in-person at the encampment, has refused to speak with the coalition’s negotiating committee. Granberg said in a letter Sunday that GW officials have “conducted regular and sustained dialogues with GW students connected to the camp.” 

A University spokesperson said Tuesday that Dean of Students Colette Coleman hosted a recent meeting with organizers, and officials have visited U-Yard daily and have been in “regular touch” with protesters. 

“Where are you, President Granberg?” the demonstrator asked. “We have remained steadfast in our demands.” 

Another counterprotester held up an image of the flag of Israel on their phone and yelled at two protesters about the death of babies in Israel. A protester held up the word “evil” on their phone in response, but said nothing. 

Eleven MPD officers stand alongside the intersection of 20th and F streets. Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce stands on the corner of 20th and F streets. 

At around 9:05 p.m. protesters began to scream loudly at the F Street House, which continued for about a minute. The act of protest was used last week by Columbia University students at the home of the school’s president, Minouche Shafik.

Demonstrators began to slap the table as they chanted “Ellen Granberg in your ivory tower, the students have the f*cking power” and “GW you’re painted red, over 40,000 dead.” 

Protesters are chanting “Granberg, we’re at your door, complicity no more” and “Granberg come to the f*cking table, we know that you’re f*cking able.” 

Updated: Tuesday at 8:48 p.m. — Demonstrators chant in front of F Street House 

Two Metropolitan Police Department cruisers are blocking off the intersection of 20th and F Streets and one MPD vehicle blocks the intersection of 19th and F streets. Three Secret Service officers on bikes monitor the protest, which is is four blocks away from the White House. 

Protesters are standing outside of University President Ellen Granberg’s on-campus residence on F Street, chanting “Granberg, Granberg you will see, Palestine is almost free,” and bang drums. 

From the house’s exterior, no lights appear to be on.

“Students, students make us proud. We will shut GW down,” protesters chant.

Updated: Tuesday at 8:38 p.m. — Demonstrators march towards Granberg’s F Street House 

At around 8:25 p.m. more than 200 protesters followed organizers out of the southeast corner of U-Yard and onto 21st Street. Protesters then turned on to F Street and walked to University President Ellen Granberg’s residence at F Street House. 

Protesters completely blocked off the streets as they walked towards the F Street House, chanting “Granberg in your ivory tower, we the students have the power,” and “Students, students don’t be blind, your tuition funds genocide.” 

Seven Metropolitan Police Department officers and stood outside of the F Street House, as well as one MPD car and one van. 

The demonstrators reached Granberg’s house at 8:38 p.m.

Updated: Tuesday at 8:28 p.m. — All Out for Rafah rally 

About 250 demonstrators gathered in University Yard on Tuesday night for the All Out for Rafah rally. 

The rally was scheduled to protest Israel’s increased military operations in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, that began Monday night. 

At 6:15 p.m., an organizer led the crowd in chants of “Free, free Palestine” before asking all protesters to take two steps forward to present “a united front.” The organizer then led the group in 214 seconds of silence for the 214 days since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7. 

Three demonstrators held a Party for Socialism and Liberation sign at the top of the stairs of Lisner Hall that read “Stand with Palestinian resistance! End all U.S. funding of Israeli apartheid.” 

Six GW Police Department officers stood outside of the doors of Lisner Hall. At around 6:45 p.m. the officers let two Metropolitan Police Department officers into the building, who watched the demonstration from the left upper windows of Lisner Hall. 

The crowd chanted “We will honor all our martyrs, all our children, sons and daughters” and “Gaza you are not alone, this campus is a freedom zone” before Raf, a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement, came up to the front of Lisner Hall to lead a workshop translating Arabic chants. 

Raf provided Arabic chants that translated to “free, free Palestine,” “Other than the revolution, there is no solution,” and “Raise, raise, raise, raise the flag of revolution.” 

“That’s our goal,” Raf said. “We’re gonna raise that Palestinian flag at every single chance we get.”

At 6:29 p.m. a demonstrator taught the crowd chants in American Sign Language. The organizers asked the crowd to put down their signs so everyone could see the sign language.

The crowd signed “Free, free Palestine,” “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” 

The crowd then resumed chants of “There is only one solution, intifada revolution” and raised signs that read “Hands off Rafah” and “Stop the invasion” that were handed out by the Party of Socialism and Liberation. 

At 6:42 p.m., Mikayla, a member of the PSL, led the crowd in more chants and spoke about the casualties in Gaza.

“Israel announced its forcible displacement of Eastern Rafah early on May 6,” Mikayla said. “Not only is this a war crime under international law, but it leaves the people taking refuge in Rafa basically trapped amid the carpet bombing.” 

Mikayla then said “Genocide Joe,” referencing to President Joe Biden,  has done nothing but express “token concern” while continuing to send money to Israel. 

“The only thing that Biden condemns are the student encampments like this,” Mikayla said. “He accuses students of being vandals and criminals, proving that he cares more about law and order, and protecting capitalism than he does about ending a genocide.” 

Organizers then led the crowd in chants of “We don’t want no two-state, give us back ‘48,’” “GW you’re painted red, over 40,000 dead” and “GW you will see, Palestine is almost free” while some demonstrators banged drumsticks and spoons on water jugs and empty metal cans. 

At about 6:55 p.m., William Youmans, an associate professor of media and public affairs, spoke about the “beauty” of the encampment and student activism. He said the students in the crowd are “the voice of conscience” in D.C.

“Yeah, we’re not the colonials anymore,” Youmans said, in reference to GW’s former moniker. “We just like to invest in colonial entities.”

At 7:10 p.m. a speaker from the Palestinian Youth Movement led the crowd in chants like “Free our prisoners, free them all, break the chains and let them fall.” The speaker then said the group has “shut down” D.C. for the past seven months by leading marches and protests and camping outside of the homes of “war criminals.” 

The speaker said they are proud of the students who have given up comfort and “their lives” to support a free Palestine. 

“The workers, the students and the masses stand with Palestine,” the speaker said. 

Rafiki, a speaker from the All African People’s Revolution Party, said Israel’s objective is to take land from the Palestinian people. Rafiki said settler colonialism is the “scourge of humanity” in Palestine and the U.S.

“We know what they’re trying to do, the question is, what are you trying to do?” Rafiki asked. 

Rafiki then led the crowd in chants of “Smash Zionism.”

During the demonstration Dean of Students Colette Coleman stood behind the rally toward the center of U-Yard. 

After Coleman departed, an organizer announced her presence at the protest and called her a “crony” of the administration that “refuses to divest from the genocide of our people.”

The crowd chanted “Coleman, Coleman, you’re a tyrant, we will never be silent” and “Quit your job.” 

At 7:50 p.m., a speaker from DMV Students for Justice in Palestine discussed the House Oversight Committee hearing scheduled for tomorrow, where D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith will testify about why they declined GW’s request to clear the encampment.

The speaker said several student organizers have drafted a letter that will be delivered to Congress tomorrow. They asked students to sign the letter before 10 a.m. Wednesday, when the window for signatures will close. 

“This letter is an invaluable way to support students,” the speaker said.

A speaker from DMV SJP then said the “Zionist entity” has commenced a ground invasion of Rafah and has escalated to the most “horrific stage of the genocide” in Gaza.

“Palestinians in Rafah have literally nowhere left to go,” the speaker said. “The Zionist entity said Palestinans would be safe in southern Gaza.”

The speaker then restated the encampments’ demands that the University divest from institutions with ties to Israel, drop the alleged charges against student organizers, protect pro-Palestinian free speech on campus and disclose investments and academic partnerships with Israel. 

“The students have set their demands,” the speaker said. “We need divestment now.”

Updated: Tuesday at 5:55 p.m. — Hindus for Human Rights speaker discusses parallels between Hindu nationalism and Zionism 

A speaker from Hindus for Human Rights discussed the diplomatic relationship between India and Israel and the similarities between Hindu nationalism and Zionism at a teach-in at around 2:30 p.m. 

The speaker said Hindutva, a political ideology that encompasses the justification of Hindu nationalism in India, has parallels to Zionism because some Hindu and Jewish groups believe that opposition against both groups is Hinduphobic and antisemitic, respectively. The speaker said India and Israel have had a decades-long diplomatic relationship as India is the top buyer of Israeli military exports, a relationship that has continued since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

The speaker said the Adani Group, an Indian multinational business conglomerate, produced and sent more than 20 Hermes 900 drones, which are capable of surveillance and aerial bombardment, to Israel. They said Gautam Adani, an Indian billionaire who founded the Adani Group, has “massive” stakes in Haifa, Israel.

The speaker said some Hindu groups that claim protection against discrimination based on Caste system, which divides Hindus into four classes, are Hinduphobic, citing a California bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed last year that would bar Caste-based discrimination. They said Hindu people who speak out against banning the Caste system are similar to Jewish people who say anti-Zionism is antisemitic. 

“They have adopted an analogous concept which they use to attack and smear,” the speaker said.

The speaker said people of different religions must come together to combat Caste-based discrimination and support Palestinians in Gaza so that the groups can disprove claims of Hinduphobia and antisemitism. They said Jewish Voice for Peace’s support of the encampment and Palestinians underlines the role of religious solidarity.

Updated: Tuesday at 5:21 p.m. — Organizers again refute Granberg’s claim of “open dialogue” with students 

Organizers said they have no plans to leave the encampment going into the summer unless all five of their demands are met at a press conference at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. 

In response to an email from University President Ellen Granberg sent to community members Sunday, an organizer said it is untrue that the University has conducted “open dialogue” with students in the encampment, claiming that Granberg has rejected organizers’ requests to meet with them. Granberg stated that officials have “conducted regular and sustained dialogues with GW students connected to the camp” in her Sunday email. 

A University spokesperson said school leaders and Student Affairs officials have visited University Yard daily and have been in “regular touch” with protesters. They said Dean of Students Colette Coleman hosted a recent meeting with organizers. 

“The university leaders seek to keep an open line of communication as the academic year comes to an end,” the spokesperson said in an email. 

The organizer said Granberg’s Sunday email demonstrates that the University’s unsuccessful attempts to clear the encampment show students “have the power.” 

In her email, Granberg said officials have offered protesters an alternative demonstration site, requested MPD assistance, put up barricades to “contain the protest,” instituted academic and administrative consequences and expanded “security resources and personnel.”  

“The University is admitting that they have failed and that they have tried everything except meeting our demands,” the organizer said. “And, you know, we will be here until those demands are met.”

The GWU Student Coalition for Palestine posted on Tuesday a recording that they allege is Coleman saying Granberg is happy “to sit down and meet” with organizers but that her expectation is that the encampment will be cleared. The Hatchet was unable to verify the entire recording.

An organizer at the presser said the recording was taken at a meeting between Coleman and the encampment’s “negotiations team.” They said the purpose of the meeting was to advance their demands to support students’ wellbeing in the encampment. They said Coleman has been their point of contact during attempts to speak with Granberg.

“She’s shown time and time again that she’s unwilling to treat her students with any form of dignity and respect and that is completely shameful,” an organizer said, in reference to Coleman. 

An organizer read a tweet from a Palestinian currently residing in Rafah, and discussed Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire deal and the military’s invasion of Rafah Monday.

“We are seven months too late for statements and empty words of sympathy,” the organizer said. “We need divestment now.”

An organizer said demonstrators do not have plans to leave or dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment, now on it’s 13th day, as GW’s summer break approaches. They said they will not leave until their five demands are met. 

“Until President Granberg is ready to meet with the students, we will be here,” the organizer said.

Organizers declined to comment on whether they have any plans to protest at Commencement. 

An organizer said “a couple of people” from the encampment plan to attend a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday at 1 p.m. where members will call on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith to testify about why they declined GW’s request to clear the encampment last week. The organizer said demonstrators who plan on attending do not foresee being granted entry into the hearing but will “do their best” to be there. The meeting is available to members of the public through livestream

The Student Government Association released a statement on Instagram early Tuesday morning condemning any form of hate speech at GW and stating their support for free speech, assembly and peaceful protest. An organizer at the presser said the SGA’s statement follows those of administration and it demonstrates a continued “lack of willingness” to negotiate with students about their demands. 

“We are not relying on the Student Body Government to represent our interests,” the organizer said. “We are relying on the collective power of the community to advance our demands.” 

Organizers said at the presser that their parents are concerned for their safety, in response to a question about the dynamic between students and their parents given many of those in the encampment are “younger people.” 

“It is shameful that our universities are more willing to jeopardize our health and safety, than to meet with us in an open dialogue to discuss our demands, which we believe are quite reasonable,” the organizer said. “Our university endowments should not be funding genocide.” 

Organizers added that they do not have a specific count of organizers within the encampment nor how many are GW students. At previous pressers, organizers have declined to comment on the number of people in the encampment. 

Students chanted “All eyes on Rafah, now” at the end of the presser.

Demonstrators also hung a banner which reads, “Our tents are home for liberation” across two trees in front of GW Law.

Updated: Tuesday at 3:25 p.m. — Senate Republican visits encampment

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, walked through the encampment at about 2:10 p.m.

Daines entered U-Yard through the northwest entrance and proceeded toward the encampment’s center to glance at the George Washington statue and a whiteboard outlining community guidelines for the encampment. Demonstrators have wrapped a keffiyeh around the statue’s head and draped a Palestinian flag around its shoulders, which has sparked online backlash from congressional Republicans and former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign

Daines exited the encampment fewer than five minutes after he entered and did not engage with demonstrators while inside U-Yard. He was later seen speaking to students on H Street outside the encampment. 

He told a Hatchet reporter on scene that he came to the University to see the encampment firsthand, adding that he spoke to Jewish students who are “very afraid to be on campus right now.” He said he hopes lawmakers “put pressure” on Mayor Muriel Bowser to remove the encampment.

“This is about law and order, safety and security of our students, particularly our Jewish students and professors,” Daines said.

This post was updated to include a comment from Daines.

Updated: Tuesday at 1:59 p.m. — Community meeting

Organizers held a community meeting around 11 a.m. with roughly 50 demonstrators to provide updates on negotiations with officials and train protestors on their rights surrounding the Metropolitan Police Department.

Organizers began by discussing Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire deal, which they said demonstrates Israel’s “parasitic relationship” with the United States and the ability of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet to wage a relentless war on Gaza. Israeli tanks entered Rafah on Monday and began controlling its border crossing on Monday, further slowing aid into the southern area of the territory. 

The deal, which was proposed by Egypt and Qatar and backed by Hamas, would involve an initial halt in the fighting that leads to a withdrawal of most Israeli troops from Gaza. 

An organizer alleged at the meeting that University President Ellen Granberg lied about conducting “regular and sustained dialogue” with protesters in her email to the GW community on Sunday, saying that Granberg has “refused” to meet with them to negotiate.  The organizer also said during the meeting that protesters met with Dean of Students Colette Coleman once, but have not yet heard back from her. Coleman was seen talking to protesters during the first few days of the encampment alongside other administrators like Provost Chris Bracey and Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce. 

“The absence of sustained dialogue is completely on the University’s side,” the organizer said. “We’ve made it consistently clear that we are ready and available to engage in negotiations with them.”

In an Instagram post at about 11:30 a.m., organizers said Granberg has declined “formal offers” to meet with student negotiators. The post appears to include an audio recording of Coleman saying that Granberg is happy to “sit down and meet” with organizers but that the president’s expectation was “the clearing of the encampment.” The Hatchet was not immediately able to verify the authenticity of the recording.

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

Organizers also discussed protesters rights if MPD were to sweep the encampment. They said the MPD legally has to give protestors three public warnings before shutting the encampment down. They said demonstrators have the opportunity to assess their individual risks, and advised those at a level of risk that “cannot afford to be arrested” to leave after the first warning.

The MPD’s Crowd Management and Civil Unrest protocol states that officers must give at least three warnings prior to dispersing groups engaging in “civil disobedience” when there is no threat of property damage or bodily harm. Officers must give at least one warning if there is threat of property damage or bodily harm.

“If you’re one of those people that is a vulnerable member of our community, for example, an immigrant or someone who has prior charges, right after that first warning you need to be leaving,” the demonstrator said. 

Updated: Tuesday at 1:08 p.m. — Biology class cancels exam

Faculty canceled the exam for a biology course on Tuesday morning after facing “extreme challenges” preparing the test because of the closure of Bell Hall due to the U-Yard encampment. 

All “Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms” exams are canceled and students will earn full credit, according to an email obtained by The Hatchet sent to students by assistant professor of biology Aidan Manubay. The email states that faculty faced difficulties preparing and printing exams and anticipate struggling to grade and provide feedback on students’ work due to the closure of Bell Hall, which houses many biology classes. 

University officials placed Bell Hall on emergency mode and blocked GWorld card access to the building on the third day of the encampment.

Updated: Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. — House Democrat calls on Bowser for city’s support to protect Jewish students

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) wrote a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser asking her and the Metropolitan Police Department to use “all resources available” to ensure the safety of Jewish students at GW. 

Gottheimer said Bowser has “ignored” two requests from University President Ellen Granberg to clear the encampment — one made on April 26, as reported by the Washington Post, and one on May 5, following protesters’ alleged rejection of “alternative solutions” to end the encampment. He said the city’s reported refusal to help clear the protest puts the safety of students and the District at risk. 

The letter, which was first reported by Punchbowl News, did not include a full date of address.

“It is well past time for District officials to intervene and protect all students on campus,” Gottheimer said in the letter. 

Gottheimer appeared to point to Granberg’s letter to the community on Sunday, in which she called for the “full support” of GW’s partners, and said that University officials have “admitted” they do not have the resources necessary to manage the encampment alone. Granberg’s letter did not specifically name Bowser, but Gottheimer said in his letter that GW has “called upon” the mayor for help. 

“You have an obligation to assist, and you should not hesitate any longer,” Gottheimer wrote. “As Mayor of Washington D.C., you must do more to eradicate hatred and and protect all students on campus and local residents of Washington, D.C.”

Gottheimer said GW has been experiencing “blatant, vile, and dangerous antisemitism,” adding that non-GW affiliated people in the encampment pose a “major security threat” to the campus that warrants a response from D.C. officials. He said MPD Chief Pamela Smith’s claim that there has been “no violence, no violent behavior, no confrontations,” is “inconsistent” with the facts. He added that the First Amendment guarantees free speech, not the ability to “harass and intimidate” students. 

“We look forward to hearing back from you without delay,” the letter states.

Updated: Tuesday at 11:59 a.m. — Day 13 encampment programming 

Organizers wrote out today’s programming on a white board near the center of the U-Yard encampment this morning. The Student Coalition for Palestine at GWU also published the schedule in an Instagram post. 

  • At 11:00 a.m., a community meeting
  • At 11:30 a.m., safety training
  • At 1:15 p.m., Dhuhr prayer and lunch
  • At 2:00 p.m., a press conference
  • At 2:30 p.m., Hindutva and Zionism teach-in
  • At 4:00 p.m., Shohada’ Square banner art build
  • At 5:30 p.m., Asr and All out for Rafah rally
  • At 8:05 p.m., Maghrib prayer
  • At 9:45 p.m., Isha prayer
  • At 10:30 p.m., Film screening: Battle of Algiers (1966) 

Updated: Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. — Bowser, MPD chief to testify at House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday 

The Mayor’s Office confirmed on Tuesday morning that Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith will be testifying at the House Oversight Committee hearing tomorrow regarding MPD’s reported refusal to clear the U-Yard encampment.

Updated: Tuesday at 11:15 a.m. — Four men power wash graffiti off of Textile Museum, Bell Hall 

At around 10:45 a.m. two unknown, older men entered U-Yard from the southwest entrance and began power washing protesters’ graffiti off the Textile Museum and Bell Hall.

One individual had a GW badge strapped to his arm. A third individual wearing a shirt with a GW logo joined them at around 10:50 a.m. with an additional hose, and a fourth wearing a GW Division of Safety and Facilities shirt joined around 10:55 am. 

They hosed writing on the brick walkway like “Ellen Grandpiggy” and “This little piggy stays at home watching the encampment.” 

One of the workers said the University asked them to remove the graffiti on GW property.

Updated: Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. — Student government association releases statement criticizing University response to encampment 

The Student Government Association posted a statement to Instagram early Tuesday morning stating the SGA Senate’s condemnation of any forms of hate speech at GW and support for students’ right to free speech, assembly and peaceful protest.

The statement said the SGA Senate condemns any University decision that leaves students participating in peaceful protests in compliance with University policies at risk of “homelessness and food insecurity.” The post said promoting protest and dialogue, as they said student demonstrators have done in recent weeks, makes progress possible.

“It is important that the Student Government Association advocates for and protects the welfare of the student community, and we feel it is only justified to stand behind students’ peaceful protests during this time,” the post reads.

The senate passed a resolution to make the statement at the SGA meeting Monday night. 

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