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Police dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment at Washington university

Photo: Sage Russell/GW Hatchet via Associated Press Around 4 a.m., police officers responded to campus and used pepper spray on protesters, according to student media outlet GW Hatchet, making several dozen arrests.

Emma Lacoste – Agence France-Presse and Inès Bel Aiba – Agence France-Presse in Washington

Published yesterday at 12:27 p.m. Updated yesterday at 9:52 p.m.

  • United States

Police in the United States capital dispersed a pro-Palestinian encampment at George Washington University at dawn on Wednesday, the latest evacuation of an American campus shaken by demonstrations calling for end of the war in Gaza.

The Washington police, who had initially balked at the idea of ​​intervening according to the American press, took action the day when the city's mayor and police chief were to be heard by Congress on the subject.

The hearing was canceled, with Republican elected official James Comer welcoming the fact that the police had evacuated “anti-Semitic and outlaw demonstrators”.

At the Conversely, the elected Democrat and Palestinian origin Rashida Tlaib criticized the police operation, warning Democratic and Republican leaders alike that they could not “get out of this growing discontent with arrests”.

The rallies reignited the debate, already very tense in the country since the start of the conflict, on freedom of expression, anti-Zionism and what constitutes anti-Semitism.

Pro-Palestinian students claim that their universities and the political class are using the accusation of anti-Semitism to muzzle their defense of civilians in Gaza, while several elected officials accuse them of fueling a discourse of hatred and violence against the Jews.

Garbage truck

Early Wednesday, the area around the George Washington University (GW) campus, in the center of the capital, not far from the White House, was cordoned off by police.

Workers dragged the tents occupied by the protesters to a garbage truck, while the street was cleaned with water.

The police chief of Washington, Pamela Smith, justified the evacuation by noting an “escalation” in recent days, affirming that “objects likely to be used as defensive and offensive weapons were being gathered”.< /p>

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Thirty-three people were arrested and the police used pepper spray, she added.

It's around 4:00 a.m. local time that the police intervened, according to the student media GW Hatchet which published images of the confrontation, including a young man cleaning his eyes with clean water.

At the same press conference as Rashida Tlaib, a student accused the police of sending “several protesters to the emergency room.”


“The police can evacuate [the camp] […]. People will come back immediately,” Hanaan, 21, a GW student who participated in the pro-Palestinian protests and did not wish to give her last name, told AFP outside the university.

The police chief warned the press that the police would not allow a new camp to be set up on the site.

The Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, welcomed the dispersal of a camp that he described as “pro-Hamas”, regretting that it was necessary to “threaten » the mayor of a hearing before Congress “to ensure the safety of Jewish students at George Washington University”.

American campuses have been shaken for several weeks by demonstrations against the war waged by Israel in Gaza. The conflict was sparked in October by an attack in Israel by Palestinian Hamas.

Across the United States, law enforcement agencies were called in by the universities to dismantle encampments and dislodge demonstrators by force.

President Joe Biden affirmed last week that “order must prevail” on campuses, all stating that it was not about “silenceing people”. He pledged on Tuesday to combat the “formidable” progression of anti-Semitism.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116