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Police dismantle pro-Palestinian camp at the University of Michigan

May 22, 2024

Before dawn on Tuesday, police dispersed a pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Michigan, citing concerns for public safety. This action came less than a week after demonstrators heightened pressure by placing fake body bags on a school official’s lawn.

Officers, equipped with helmets and face shields, cleared roughly 50 individuals from the Diag, a traditional site for campus protests. Video footage circulated online showed police using what appeared to be an irritant to disperse the crowd, prompting people to retreat.

Sarah Hubbard, chair of the university’s governing board, emphasized on social media that “UM is not a campground.” The police operation resulted in at least four arrests, prompting protesters to relocate to the Washtenaw County jail in a show of solidarity.

The encampment was established on April 22, towards the end of the school year and just before spring commencement, with posters taunting President Santa Ono and other officials. Following the clearance of the camp, nearby buildings, including the undergraduate and graduate libraries, were closed, and police turned away students attempting to study.

Ono stated that the encampment had become a safety hazard, citing overloaded power sources and open flames. Despite requests to address safety concerns following a fire marshal inspection, organizers refused to comply.

Protesters have been demanding divestment from companies with ties to Israel, although the university claims minimal investments in such entities. Demonstrations have been escalating nationwide, with tensions increasing following a police crackdown on an encampment at Columbia University.

Despite threats from the university president, an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters at Philadelphia’s Drexel University persisted, with city and campus police monitoring a scheduled rally. As a result, lecture classes remain virtual, and some events need rescheduling, as efforts continue to restore normal campus operations amidst ongoing protests.

Also read: Over 2,100 people arrested during pro-Palestinian protests at US colleges

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