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Police raid pro-Palestinian encampment at University of Michigan, arrest protesters

The encampment has remained on campus for about three weeks, with students refusing to leave.
Police clear University of Michigan encampment
Posted at 5:30 AM, May 21, 2024

Editor’s Note: Earlier versions of this story and video said Ann Arbor police were involved in the raid, but they were not. It was only University of Michigan police. Ann Arbor police were involved in crowd control, they say.

University of Michigan police raided the encampment where pro-Palestinian protesters have been set up for several weeks. The raid started Tuesday morning.

Officers in riot gear moved in on the group Tuesday morning. Police used pepper spray to move the protesters back, according to video on scene, and protesters have been seen washing out their eyes with water after being pepper sprayed.

“It was still dark and when I got out, they gave us a 10-minute dispersal warning. They started approaching us after about 6 minutes and immediately started pepper spraying us. I saw one person being pushed to the ground and being detained,” said Kayla Gonzalez, a protester who described the raid.

Eventually, the protesters were driven off campus and into the city of Ann Arbor, where they gathered later Tuesday morning.

According to the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, four arrests have been made with charges ranging from resisting a police officer to obstructing a police officer.

“We’re going to continue to fight against divestment (from Israel) no matter what the university does,” said another protester.

Around 7 a.m., University of Michigan President Santa J. Ono sent a letter to students and faculty announcing the end of the encampment, and saying that it came after protesters refused to comply with requests to remove the external camp barriers, refrain from overloading power sources and stop using open flames.

"The protesters refused to comply with these requests. That forced the university to take action and this morning, we removed the encampment," Ono said in the email. "The disregard for safety directives was only the latest in a series of troubling events centered on an encampment that has always violated the rules that govern the Diag (area of campus) — especially the rules that ensure the space is available to everyone."

Ono said in a statement that the university supports the right to protest peacefully, and people can protest "as they always have at the University of Michigan, so long as those protests don’t violate the rights of others and are consistent with university policies meant to ensure the safety of our community."

Protesters with the TAHIR Coalition have been camped out on the University of Michigan campus since last month calling on the university to divest investments from Israel.

Last week, students say they were asked to leave by school officials but they remained at the encampment. The encampment has remained for approximately three weeks now, with goals of bringing attention to the war in Gaza.

Also last week, relations between university regents and protesters reached a boiling point as the protesters targeted homes of Board of Regents members.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Detroit.