DC Mayor Refuses to Clear Encampment Until Violence

(StraightNews.org) – Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser previously stated that she would not order the clearance of anti-Israel camps at George Washington University unless protests descended into violence. Just two days later, police moved in and arrested 33 people.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) arrived at the campus at around 3 am on May 8, clearing the camps and hauling dozens of students away. The action occurred after a previous request for intervention by school officials was refused. Police Chief Pamela Smith told reporters that the situation had changed, and “MPD learned of more indicators that the protest was becoming less stable and more volatile.”

Smith further described receiving intelligence that counter-protesters were “covertly” gathering at the site, raising the prospect of violence. She explained that demonstrators had also traveled from other sites, including Colombia University in New York, and had collected items that could be utilized as weapons.

Police across the country have now arrested more than 2,000 people as unauthorized anti-Israel encampments appeared in schools from New York to California. The camp at George Washington had been erected in mid-April, and university President Ellen Granberg complained that the protests had disrupted academic activity and increased safety concerns on campus.

The clearance and arrests, during which police reportedly used pepper spray, took place immediately before Mayor Bower and President Granberg were due to appear before a Congressional hearing by the Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. The Committee cancelled the hearing, however, when police action was taken.

Mayor Bowser told reporters that she ordered the camp clearance after receiving new information from the MPD. The police action came a day after protestors arrived at Grenberg’s home carrying signs saying “Hands off Rafah” and “Free Palestine.”

Meanwhile, in Gaza, students and young children gathered to thank American protestors for their actions. Footage from the Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah showed kids holding a sign saying, “Thank you, students, in solidarity with Gaza. Your message has reached us.”

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