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MIT protesters vow to "keep on coming back" after encampment cleared

Protesters rally after MIT encampment removed
Protesters rally after MIT encampment removed 03:08

CAMBRIDGE - Police moved in on the MIT pro-Palestinian encampment in the predawn hours Friday, removing tents and arresting ten protesters who refused to leave. The demonstrators rallied by afternoon claiming they knew it was coming.

"It wasn't like we were caught off guard," said Mohammed Mohammed, an MIT protester. "It wasn't like we didn't know the administration was going to continue using heavy hand. We knew it, we anticipated it."

Those protesters ended up before a judge, where their arraignments were postponed until July, but they were ordered to stay away from campus. The move followed a week of increasing tensions between the protesters and police who clashed Thursday in front of an MIT research building leading to several more arrests.

"The only thing making us materially unsafe on this campus is the intense police state that this administration has constructed around us," said MIT protester Sam Ihns.

MIT encampment cleared
Workers clean up after police cleared a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 10, 2024. RICK FRIEDMAN/AFP via Getty Images

In a statement, MIT President Sally Kornbluth wrote of the encampment, "It was not heading in a direction anyone could call peaceful. And the cost and disruption for the community overall made the situation increasingly untenable."

Harvard begins issuing suspensions

It caught the attention of protesters at a similar encampment at Harvard University, now the only the tent city in the area still standing. Harvard on Friday began issuing suspension notices to several students including sophomore Kojo Acheampong.

"I think we all got into this knowing the repercussions and what could happen, so we're all prepped," Acheampong said.

So far police have not moved in, but Harvard faculty stood outside the yard in support of the demonstrators.

"It's really striking the level of severity and the lack of due process in these disciplinary threats that are being issued," said Dr. Lara Jirmanus of Harvard Medical School. "It's really frightening."

At MIT the encampment may be gone but protesters vow to press on. "Organizing capacity remains strong and we are going to keep on coming back," Mohammed said.  

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