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Pro-Palestinian tent encampments expand at University of Chicago, DePaul

Pro-Palestinian encampments grow at University of Chicago, DePaul
Pro-Palestinian encampments grow at University of Chicago, DePaul 03:19

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson came out Tuesday to support a growing pro-Palestinian tent encampment at the University of Chicago.

Tuesday marked the second day of the protest on the Main Quad at the U of C's Hyde Park campus. Tents were first set up Monday just to the north of Swift Hall. The students are part of a nationwide movement calling for immediate divestment from countries profiting from Israeli business amid the war in Gaza.

Students were also seen banding together for the event. Tents were cleared from Deering Meadow at the Evanston campus of Northwestern University on Tuesday after protesters came to an agreement with the university administration, and Northwestern students donated and delivered some tarps and supplies to UChicago and to a new encampment at DePaul University.

The number of tents at the U of C grew significantly overnight Monday into Tuesday.

"We had around 20 to 30 tents yesterday," said U of C student Amira Hosohail. "Now, I think we have around 50."

But their message has stayed the same.

"We're not here just to make a political statement as a bunch of like activists, just for fun, because we're young and cool and hippies," said Hosohail. "We're here for a genocide."

Student protesters were joined by professors, who are calling on the school to disclose its investments, and cut ties with Israel, as the war in Gaza continues.

"There's been so much has been done to defame these protests, and it's specifically been giving a false idea of saying the protestors and the pro-Palestinian people on one side versus Jews and Jewish students on the other," said U of C professor Callie Maidhof. "There are so many Jewish students, and professors like myself, here and at campus encampments across the country."

Many were also pleased to see Rev. Jackson make an appearance.

"Power to the people," Jackson said.

On Monday, University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos issued a message to members of the university community warning that while the university values free expression - including the expression of ideas that may cause discomfort for some – a tent encampment on the Main Quad is not acceptable.

Dean of students Michele Rasmussen also issued a message – likewise emphasizing the value of free expression at the U of C, but also emphasizing that protests may not "jeopardize public safety, disrupt the University's operations, or involve the destruction of property." She wrote that setting up tents on the Quad without prior approval, as the protesters did in this case, is also a violation of university policy and will result in disciplinary action.

Also Tuesday, a similar encampment was set up at DePaul University in Lincoln Park. The students there called for divestment and disclosure of university finances, among other demands.

"Our university has continuously set emails labeling this as a war between Israel and Gaza. This is not the case. This is a genocide," said DePaul student Henna Ayesh. "Currently right now, Gaza is being bombed. We have people within this campus right now who have family in Gaza and cannot reach them. I have family in the West Bank and Palestine, so to see my university ignore my family's suffering – it's extremely hard to bear with."

DePaul said it supports the students' right to protest and free speech, but said actions that violate campus safety will lead to disciplinary action.

Meanwhile, with demonstrations happening on campuses across the city, Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling was asked Tuesday to weigh in on how they are responding.

"People are protesting peacefully. We're not engaging them in a way that's going to enflame what is that they're trying to do," he said. "If people just want their voices heard, this is America."

Other protests continue on university campuses around the country, with some growing increasingly more heated. At Columbia University in New York City, the NYPD entered the campus Tuesday night.

A dramatic scene unfolded as police brought in a large vehicle with an extendable ramp to gain entry to a second floor window of the Hamilton Hall, which schools officials said was occupied by protesters. Officers pried the window open and dozens of officers, some who appeared to be in riot gear, began to enter the building through a window.

According to police, flash bangs were used to disorient the protesters as officers made their way inside. They say no tear gas was used.

Police say protesters had barricaded the hall with soda machines, chairs and other furniture. The NYPD released video of officers clearing chairs from a stairwell, as well as officers prying open a door to a room inside the building. No students appeared to be inside the room.

According to police, about 48 people had been taken into custody at Columbia as of late Tuesday night. At least two New York City Department of Correction buses full of protesters were seen being driven away from the school.

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