Majority Of University Protesters Arrested Weren’t Even Students, Police Say

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Robert Schmad Contributor
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The majority of people arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) while clearing a pro-Palestinian encampment at George Washington University (GWU) were not students, D.C. Police Chief Pamela Smith said on Thursday.

Police began clearing the encampment at GWU in the early Wednesday morning hours after nearly two weeks of protesters occupying the campus. The MPD arrested 33 individuals, 11 of which were students at the institution, D.C. Police Chief Pamela Smith told FOX 5 Washington D.C. on Thursday.

“As we continued to watch [the encampment] we saw an escalation in some of the activity … and when we realized we had enough intelligence, information, to move in to clear the encampment, we made that decision,” Smith said.

MPD Deputy Director of Communications Paris Lewbel confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation that “11 of the arrestees identified themselves as George Washington University students.” A spokesperson for the university gave the DCNF a different figure, saying that just six of those arrested were current students.  (RELATED: Pro-Palestine Protesters Gather Outside George Washington University President’s Home)

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was set to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability on Wednesday, but it was canceled after the MPD cleared the encampment.

MPD would treat future pro-Palestinian protests as it would “any other protest or demonstration” by ensuring they are “protecting those who choose to exercise their 1st Amendment right,” Smith said.

Other universities have also reported outside individuals participating in pro-Palestinian protests.

“To watch these highly organized, outside protestors arrive on campus in vans, construct an encampment and overtake the Quad just days after it was vandalized with hateful and threatening messages was deeply disturbing,” Emory University President Greg Fenves said on April 26.

Washington University in St. Louis reported that 100 people were arrested during a campus demonstration on April 27, only 27 of whom were affiliated with the university. Those arrested face trespassing charges, with some also facing charges of assault and resisting arrest.

This piece was updated to include comment from a George Washington University spokesperson.

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