Gaza Solidarity Encampment set up at Korman Quad | The Triangle

Gaza Solidarity Encampment set up at Korman Quad

Photo by Samuel Gregg | The Triangle

An encampment in solidarity with Palestine was established at Drexel University’s Korman Quad late Saturday afternoon. This comes a day after an attempted occupation of the University of Pennsylvania’s Fisher-Bennett Hall.  

Protesters first gathered at City Hall at 4 p.m.  on Saturday, May 18 in memory of the 76th anniversary of the Nakba in Palestine. After a few speeches, the crowd of 200 to 300 people began marching westward along Market Street. Philadelphia Police cars and bikes trailed behind them, while 15 to 20 bikes cleared the area in front of them.

Around 4:30 p.m., Philadelphia Police along with Penn Police brought a truck full of metal barricades to 34th & Walnut Streets, seemingly expecting a final destination and escalation at Penn’s College Green, which was the site of the UPenn Gaza Solidarity encampment that was taken down by police on Friday, May 10. The raid on the camp resulted in numerous arrests of Penn students, faculty and community members.

As the Nakba march, organized and led by the Philly Palestine Coalition, neared the Market Street bridge over the Schuylkill river, groups of people began gathering inside the Korman Quad with tents and other supplies. Around 6 p.m. the march, consisting of about 200 people, reached the Dragon Statue and stopped for a couple of speakers to make statements. Since 5:30 p.m., one DUPD car had been parked at the Dragon Statue, anticipating the protestors to pass through, and about five DUPD and Public Safety officers had been standing around it, separate from those surrounding the protest.

The march moved south on 33rd street, and at the same time tents started getting staged at the elevated green space directly across from the Korman Center and above the hallway connecting Stratton and Disque Halls. Around 6:30 p.m., march-goers looped back around the Quad on Chestnut Street, then continued into it along Woodland Walk. They kept police, most of which seemed focused on the march and protecting Penn’s College Green, outside of the Quad and away from the campers.

As they entered the Quad, some protestors started locking arms and formed a human chain of about 100 people around the entire elevated green area. As part of a movement at universities across the nation and internationally, a Gaza Solidarity Encampment was declared. 

The barricades previously set up at 34th and Walnut were placed across Woodland Walk and between Disque and Gerri C LeBow Halls. Food and water deliveries are being allowed across the barricades, and legal observers have also been allowed in.

Soon after, Drexel University instated a campus lockdown, making all Drexel buildings “open only to those with clearance from Drexel’s Public Safety,” according to an email sent out at 9:30 p.m. and signed by President John Fry, Vice President for Public Safety Mel Singleton and Senior Vice President for Student Success Subir Sahu. They also announced that no outside persons may be signed into Drexel residential halls, and all events previously scheduled have been canceled.

Around midnight, the campers reached an agreement with Singleton to also allow in medics that have been “marked with a red cross.”

“Drexel Police and Public Safety are closely monitoring this demonstration to ensure that it is peaceful and non-disruptive to normal operations, and that participants and passersby will behave respectfully toward one another,” said Fry, Singleton and Sahu in their joint statement to the university community. “We will be prepared to respond quickly to any disruptive or threatening behavior by anyone.”