Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Live coverage: Students disperse from F Street after MPD warnings

Max Collins | Photographer

After a standoff between local police and protesters outside GW’s administrative offices Wednesday night, demonstrators dispersed and said they would “fight another day.”

Protesters first gathered on H Street outside of University Yard at about 5 p.m., feet away from where police cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment early Wednesday morning and arrested more than 30 people, including at least six GW students. The crowd then moved and pitched tents on F Street at about 8 p.m. outside University President Ellen Granberg’s on-campus residence and GW offices before hundreds of officers descended on the area and issued five warnings for the demonstrators to disperse before arrest.

Before moving to F Street, protesters spoke about their altercations with police during the clearing two nights before, condemning officers’ use of force. Some speakers pointed to their religion and the resilience of Palestinians currently facing Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as their source of strength.

Once the crowd moved to F Street, the energy ramped up, many protesters dancing to music and chanting before police formed a line and began to move in just before midnight. 

Police detained one protester at H and 21st streets after the demonstrators had dispersed. The Hatchet was unable to confirm why police detained the protester.

Follow along for live updates below:

Max Collins | Photographer

Updated: 2:53 a.m. — MPD spokesperson responds to questions over Wednesday encampment clearing

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department said the “improvised weapons,” which officials cited as part of MPD’s reasoning to clear the U-Yard encampment early Wednesday morning, was a gathering of materials that “could be used as weapons,” like loose rocks and plywood.

The statement also said officers discovered signs around the encampment with messages derogatory to the pro-Palestinian protesters, indicating that “covert counter-demonstrators” had potentially entered the encampment. They did not specify any of the signs that were reportedly derogatory. 

Officials cited incidents like these, as well as the alleged physical assault of an officer, reported attempts to gain access to restricted campus buildings and organizers from schools outside of the D.C. region traveling to GW prompted MPD to clear the encampment due to concerns of potential further escalation.

The spokesperson said protesters allegedly assaulted a GW Police officer near a flagpole in University Yard last Thursday, but officers did not arrest any demonstrators at the time. Protesters clashed with officers while attempting to hoist a Palestinian flag over University Yard Thursday afternoon. A GWPD officer used a knife to cut down the rope from the flagpole outside Lisner Hall. 

They also cited officers’ arrests of three protesters early Wednesday for assault on a police officer after demonstrators allegedly assaulted MPD officers near 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, an altercation where police used pepper spray on protesters. They said an additional demonstrator was charged with assaulting a police officer inside U-Yard that night. 

MPD officers also arrested a demonstrator early Friday morning for assault on a police officer following a standoff between protesters and police on F Street earlier that night. The Hatchet was unable to confirm details about the altercations Wednesday and Friday that led to the charges of assault on an officer.   

Speakers at a congressional press conference Wednesday claimed MPD tore off demonstrators’ hijabs and allegedly smashed a demonstrator’s head into a bicycle, breaking their glasses. The spokesperson said MPD is not currently investigating the claims. 

MPD did not immediately return a request for comment over details surrounding Thursday night’s standoff with demonstrators.

Updated: 1:49 a.m. — Video shows MPD arrest of demonstrator

A video from early Friday morning shows the Metropolitan Police Department’s arrest of a protester, who police said assaulted an officer. 

The video, courtesy of the ox Institute, was taken from the intersection of 21st and H streets, does not appear to show the incident that preceded the arrest, and The Hatchet is unable to verify details about the altercation. But the video shows a pair of MPD officers approach the protester, who then backs away from the officers before they detain him. A small group of protesters try to assist the detained demonstrator, but dozens of officers converge and separate the crowd with their bodies and bicycles. 

The video of the arrest, which was taken at about 12:15 a.m., then ended as more MPD officers arrived. The person arrested had a camera.

Updated: 1:33 a.m. — Demonstrator arrested for assault on a police officer, MPD says

A Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson said in a statement early Friday morning that local police arrested a demonstrator around 12:15 a.m. for assault on a police officer.

The Hatchet was unable to confirm details about the altercation that led to the arrest. 

The spokesperson said officers delivered several warnings of arrest Thursday night to the crowd of more than 100 protesters, who had pitched tents in front of GW administrative buildings on F Street, and protesters complied with police and dispersed. 

The spokesperson said all “first amendment activity” in the area has dispersed, and all roads have opened to traffic. 

Updated: 12:32 a.m. — Police escort detained protester into van 

Metropolitan Police Department officers escorted the detained protester into a van. The Hatchet was unable to confirm why the protester was detained.

Updated: 12:27 a.m. — MPD leaving scene

Most of the Metropolitan Police Department officers on H Street have left, but GW Police Department officers remain. An organizer again instructed demonstrators to go home.

Updated: 12:19 a.m. — Police appear to detain at least one person

Tensions between protesters and police are rising again, now at 21st and H streets. More than a dozen police vehicles traveled north on 21st Street to the scene, and police have detained at least one person. The Hatchet is unable to confirm why the protester was detained.

“Let him go!” protesters are chanting. “Quit your jobs!”

Updated: 12:02 a.m. — Crowd disperses

Most protesters have dispersed, except for a small group on H and 20th streets. Some police on bikes have left.

A GW Alert at 11:58 p.m. said Thurston Hall was placed into “safety mode.” The alert said the demonstrations have left the area and that residents can now access the building. 

Updated: 11:51 p.m. — GW Alert says street closures are ‘rolling’

A GW Alert sent at 11:47 p.m. said there is “urgent” police activity on the Foggy Bottom Campus, and that street closures were “rolling.” The alert said to avoid “the area.”

Updated: 11:49 p.m. — Organizers tell protesters to disperse

As protesters move north on 19th Street toward H Street, an organizer told the crowd to disperse for the night, instructing people to leave with a buddy.

“We need to fight another day,” one organizer said.

Updated: 11:41 p.m. — Police inch forward

Police are now in front of Thurston Hall, moving down from F and 21st streets. Officers in the front of the line have drawn their batons.

Updated: 11:35 p.m. — Police give fifth warning

Police on F Street have given protesters a fifth warning to leave the sidewalk and street or face arrest. The line of protesters facing police, who are linking arms, has backed up to F and 19th streets. The line of police facing them has not moved.

Updated: 11:35 p.m. — Police give fourth warning

Police on F Street have given protesters a fourth warning to leave the sidewalk and street or face arrest. A large police van has pulled up to F Street from E Street. Many protesters are moving toward G and 19th streets.

“Hold the line,” protesters yelled.

Updated: 11:32 p.m. — Police give third warning

Police on F Street have given protesters a third warning to leave the sidewalk and street or face arrest.

Updated: 11:29 p.m. — Police give second warning

Police on F Street have given protesters a second warning to leave the sidewalk and street or face arrest. Some protesters are removing their tents, but most are staying where they are.

Updated: 11:27 p.m. — Police give first warning

Police on F Street have told protesters to leave the sidewalk and street or face arrest. A Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment regarding police’s plans to clear the protest.

“If you’re not wanting to get arrested, you’ll have to head on out,” an officer said.

Updated: 11:26 p.m. — More police approach line on F Street

A large group of at least 100 police officers are gathering outside the Alumni House on F Street, approaching the main police barricade. Some are wearing riot gear helmets. It’s unclear if police will give protesters a warning to disperse.

“Hey cops, what do you say, how many students will you beat today?” protesters chanted.

Updated: 10:53 p.m. — Protesters dance on F Street

Demonstrators played voice notes from people living in Gaza while facing a line of about 24 MPD officers wearing helmets on F Street. At about 10:30 p.m., the sea of demonstrators began playing hip hop music and dancing, some waving keffiyahs in the air.

At about 10:40 a.m., at least six Metropolitan Police Department supervisors entered the Alumni House, the large building adjacent to F Street.

Demonstrators also danced and stomped on a sign that depicts a fake mugshot of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Updated: 10:04 p.m. — More students enter protest 

At about 9:45 p.m., the barrier of MPD officers on the intersection of F and 19th streets broke from the line to let in about 40 people. Fifteen students went into Thurston Hall and about 25 joined the demonstration.

Updated: 9:48 p.m. — Thurston Hall community coordinator tells residents to stay away from building

In a 9:08 p.m email, Thurston Hall Community Coordinator Jess Gonzalez built upon a previous GW Alert that said Thurston Hall’s GWorld access is restricted to “authorized first responders” only. Gonzalez said residents may “move about” the building as tap access within Thurston is operational. She said students who are outside the building should stay away from the area until there is an all clear message sent via GW Alert. 

Gonzalez said students may go to the University Student Center if they need a building to stay in “for the time being.”

Updated: 9:41 p.m. — Students continue chants, pass out food

Demonstrators continued to chant and link arms around the now ten tents on F Street under light rain.

“MPD go back home, we can talk to Ellen alone,” protesters chanted. 

Inside the lines of protesters linking arms, organizers passed out bottles of water, Subway sandwiches and Falafel Inc. bowls. 

“Hands off Gaza now,” demonstrators chanted.

Updated: 9:23 p.m. — Before protesters pitch tents, students condemn police’s encampment clearing on H Street

Before the protest moved toward F Street, students gathered outside University Yard at about 5 p.m. for the “All Out for DMV SJP” rally. The rally comes a day after local police cleared the pro-Palestinian encampment in U-Yard and arrested more than 30 people, at least six of which are GW students.

“Since day one, we have understood the monster before us,” an organizer said. “It is a collusion of academic institutions, administration, police, Congress and the state at large to protect their interest in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.”

The organizer said people that oppose the protest have made “blatant” mischaracterizations of the encampment, calling it “antisemitic” and “dangerous.” The organizer said protesters organized Shabbat services and a bat mitzvah during the encampment, as well as services for Orthodox Christians and prayer for Muslim protesters. 

“The DMV SJP encampment has proved itself to be actively inclusive of people of all religious backgrounds and faith traditions,” the organizer said.

The organizer said the encampment and protesters’ solidarity is a testament to students’ “collective power” and the resilience of communities that are far too often overlooked and “abandoned” by those who are supposed to represent them. The organizer condemned University President Ellen Granberg’s directive for police to clear the encampment despite not ever visiting the protest in U-Yard. 

“If she had come to see us in the encampment, she would have witnessed the value it provided the community,” the organizer said. “A microcosm of the radically different world we strive for, a world founded in solidarity, founded in love.”

Another organizer said in the police’s clearing of the encampment, GW officials allowed officers to destroy and throw away prayer mats and Qurans on scene. The organizer said Palestinians, as well as their love, resilience, empathy and survival, have taught protesters how to be “revolutionaries.”

“We, the Muslim students of GW, we bear witness to this administration’s unrelenting injustice, and we choose to be a part of the revolution that will liberate Palestine,” the organizer said. 

Another demonstrator said they had been at U-Yard since the first day of the encampment and was arrested when MPD cleared the encampment early Wednesday morning. They said MPD held them at the jail for more than five hours.

“During this time, we learned that our friends, our loved ones were being maced, were being brutalized,” the demonstrator said. “My friend had her hijab ripped off.” 

The demonstrator said GW has the power to divest and end material support for Israel. They said demonstrators have allegedly faced violence from GW and MPD officers but will “keep fighting” until GW responds to their demands. 

“The violence that we as students have been subjected to are the same tactics that are used against the Palestinian people,” the demonstrator said. “They were developed by the Israeli military were practiced on Palestinians. This is no surprise. Our pigs here are Israeli trained.”

One protester, who uses a wheelchair, said they were arrested early Wednesday morning during MPD’s clearing, and they said they were brought to a different jail than the other arrested demonstrators. They alleged that while riding alone with four officers in an MPD van, the four officers made “ableist jokes” and “ableist threats of violence.”

The protester claimed the officers didn’t secure their wheelchair to the van, which they said created an “unsafe” environment as their hands were fastened with a zip tie in front of them. 

“They thought that they could get me alone, that they could put me in solitary confinement and they could intimidate me, and I’m here to tell you that they f*cking have not,” the protester said. 

Updated: Thursday at 9:22 p.m. — Police take group photo next to protest

About a dozen Metropolitan Police Department officers took a group photo at the entrance to Thurston Hall at about 9:15 p.m. Most smiled, and one flashed a peace sign.

Thurston is currently in GWorld emergency mode, meaning students can’t enter due to the pro-Palestinian protest on F Street.

Ethan Valliath | Staff Photographer

Updated: Thursday at 9:11 p.m. — Scenes from outside the perimeter of police officers

Police on the 2000 Block of F Street have taped off access to vehicles and pedestrians, preventing further demonstrators from joining the people on F Street. A line of officers with bicycles are standing behind police tape as dozens of observers and protesters look on from the other side. It’s fairly quiet outside the perimeter, making for a tense scene.

One demonstrator argued with a police officer, asking police who they were protecting by blocking the street. A handful of protesters outside the perimeter started “Free Palestine” chants. People are watching from the windows and doors of nearby residence halls and apartment buildings. 

“Who are we endangering? In order to protect someone, they have to be in danger,” the protester said to the officer. “I’m 20, I’m 20, who the f*ck am I endangering.”

Updated: Thursday at 8:32 p.m. — Students rally, pitch tents on street outside Granberg’s residence

At about 8 p.m., demonstrators protesting on F Street outside of 1918 F Street and University President Ellen Granberg’s house pitched nine tents on the street. 

Protesters had led chanting and hosted speakers involved in the encampment in U-Yard in a “All Out for DMV SJP” protest on the intersection of H and 21st streets beginning at about 5:30 p.m. At about 8 p.m. the demonstrators then marched down 21st Street and turned onto F Street and briefly chanted in front of F Street House, Granberg’s on-campus residence, and turned to chant towards 1918 F Street, which houses some administrators’ offices, before pitching tents on F Street.

The lines of police officers on bikes blocked off the area in front of F Street House. 

“Admin, admin go to hell,” protesters chanted. 

About 30 Metropolitan Police Department Officers lined up on F Street, facing rows of about 120 protesters who locked arms around the tents. Another 20 officers on bikes lined the intersection of F and 20th streets, blocking off the street.

At around 8:18 p.m. officials issued a GW Alert placing Thurston Hall on GWorld emergency mode due to “First Amendment activity.” The statement said any students who leave the building will not be allowed to reenter. 

“All GWorld readers are restricted to allow authorized first responders only,” the alert reads. 

At around 8:26 p.m. officials issued a second GW Alert asking people to avoid F Street between 19th and 20th due to urgent police activity.

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor

Read the original post here:

More than 24 hours after local police cleared the University Yard encampment early Wednesday morning, detaining 33 demonstrators, the number of GW students arrested remains unclear.

A University spokesperson said Thursday that the Metropolitan Police Department arrested six students from GW, while The Hatchet identified eight protesters as GW students from arrest records. Police said on Thursday morning that 11 self-identified as GW students upon arrest, but later deferred to GW’s count.

“What we pushed out this morning was based on preliminary information,” an MPD spokesperson said in an email Thursday afternoon.

Hundreds of MPD officers cleared the encampment in the early hours of Wednesday morning,  some using pepper spray and physical force, and arrested 33 protesters on charges like unlawful entry and assault of a police officer. The department claimed they cleared the protest due to signs of escalation from protesters, like alleged assault, attempts to enter restricted campus buildings and gathering “improvised weapons.” 

The protest appeared largely peaceful throughout its 13 day duration, with some altercations between police and protesters on the fourth day when protesters overran the barricades enclosing U-Yard. Protesters also sparred with GW Police Department officers who cut the flagpole rope outside Lisner Hall after demonstrators attempted to hoist a Palestinian flag Monday. 

MPD didn’t immediately return a request for comment regarding the allegations. The Student Coalition for Palestine at GW did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Georgetown Hoya reported Thursday night that of the 33 protesters arrested, seven were Georgetown students.

Workers continued to hose down H Street Thursday and disposed of remaining belongings in U-Yard in a garbage truck. Tall black fences block the perimeter to U-Yard. The George Washington statue standing at the entrance to the plaza, which donned keffiyehs and Palestinian flags with pro-Palestinian messages marking its base just days ago, is now covered with a gray tarp.

“They can mace us, they can brutalize us, they can pepper spray us,” a student said at a press conference with local advocacy organization Hands Off D.C. Wednesday. “But the movement is here. It is stronger than ever. Our energy has not dissipated.”

GW faculty and staff circulated a petition Wednesday condemning the clearing of the encampment, saying they were “horrified” by the use of police force against students. As of Thursday evening, it had garnered more than 160 signatures. Nearly 80 parents of GW students sent a letter to the Board of Trustees Thursday denouncing the arrests and calling for the removal of President Ellen Granberg and Provost Chris Bracey for their handling of the encampment.

Granberg and Bracey issued a statement Wednesday saying they are focused on ensuring a “safe and secure” environment on campus. They alleged demonstrators had allegedly displayed violent imagery and assaulted police officers. A University spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment regarding MPD’s allegations and Granberg and Bracey’s claims. 

“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.

U-Yard remains cordoned off, but protesters have continued to organize since Wednesday’s clearing, with about 15 demonstrators rallying in front of District House late Wednesday afternoon in response to the fencing off of H Street and University Yard.

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

The coalition plans to rally at 5 p.m. Thursday evening outside “Shohada’ Square,” the name protesters have coined for U-Yard, which means “Martyr Square” in Arabic. 

“36 hrs after facing brutality, we are only stronger!” the group posted to Instagram.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor
More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet