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Philadelphia Police remove pro-Palestinian encampment and arrest demonstrators at Penn | The Triangle
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Philadelphia Police remove pro-Palestinian encampment and arrest demonstrators at Penn

Photo by Kasey Shamis | The Triangle

Early Friday morning, Philadelphia Police moved to dismantle the encampment at the University of Pennsylvania. At 6:00 a.m., 33 protestors, including students and faculty, were arrested and taken to a Police District station at 61st & Thompson.

Police warned students, giving them a two-minute window to leave the area. A group then gathered around the Ben Franklin statue, locking arms before being forcefully removed by Police. 

The encampment, lasting 16 days, has now been cleared as of 9:26 a.m. A garbage truck parked on Locust Walk was loaded up with tents, tarps and other materials inside of the encampment. 

The area is now blocked off, with six-foot barricades set up surrounding the College Green.

 “‘Van Pelt Library is accessible through the Rosengarten entrance, on the ground floor at the east end, facing Levy Park,’” said the Division of Public Safety in a statement.

Access to the College Green area of the campus will be restricted until further notice, said Interim President J. Larry Jameson and Provost John L. Jackson. 

Photo by Samuel Gregg | The Triangle

The arrested individuals were cited for trespassing and were all released as of 9:05 a.m., according to Philadelphia Police and legal observers.

“We are disappointed that riot police dismantled a peaceful student-led protest this morning. From the start, we advocated for a negotiated, nonviolent resolution. Sending a large military police force against students and faculty is an inappropriate and deeply concerning response,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier and State Rep. Rick Krajewski in a joint statement

Both Gauthier and Krajewski visited the encampment numerous times, expressing their support for the protestors and saying that they will always defend their constituents’ First Amendment rights.

A professor from the University was shown being led away by police along with other individuals. 

“Are they under arrest? Am I under arrest? … I’m a faculty member here, am I under arrest?,” he said to the police.

In a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Associate Professor Amy Offner, called the arrests and removal of the encampment “‘cowardly and appalling,’” and that the “‘faculty and students were “engaged in nonviolent antiwar protest.’”

Photo by Samuel Gregg | The Triangle

“We condemn the university administration, we demand the immediate release of all our students and colleagues, and we demand the reversal of all discipline and charges against students who have been the victim of the university administration’s own violation of its Guidelines on Open Expression,” said Offner. 

In an email from the interim president and provost, sent shortly after 9 a.m., they said that the students’ and faculty’s demands and proposals were not possible and that “Penn remains unequivocally opposed to divestment, and [that] it is unlawful for institutions receiving funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The encampment was described as a threat and disruption to the campus “for too long.” Jameson said that this prompted the University to take action with the support of the Philadelphia Police Department, saying that, “This is an unfortunate but necessary step to prevent violence, restore operations, and return our campus to our community.”