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Police clear pro-Palestinian encampment at Wayne State University

(CBS DETROIT) - Police moved in on and began clearing the pro-Palestinian encampment at Wayne State University Thursday morning.

Twelve people have been arrested, according to an update from Bill Roose, the associate director of communication at Wayne State, including seven for trespassing, three for obstructing a police officer, one for assault of a police officer and one for resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer. 

Police made the announcement for students to leave at 5:30 a.m. and said if they didn't, they could face trespassing charges. They then made three more announcements before 5:50 a.m. Most students dispersed after the police arrived and started to remove tents and other items from the encampment. 

After a week of the encampment and asking students to leave voluntarily, Matt Lockwood, associate vice president of university communications, said the university chose to clear it today because of safety issues and the lack of resources to allow it to continue. 

Lockwood could not confirm when classes would return to in-person learning but said the university was hoping for that to happen by tomorrow. 

Wayne State University President Kimberly Espy released the following statement Thursday morning:

"The encampment at Wayne State University was removed this morning. After ongoing consultation with the Board of Governors, university leadership, and leaders in the community – and after many good-faith efforts to reach a different conclusion – this was the right time to take this necessary step.   

Starting at approximately 5:30 a.m., officers from the Wayne State University Police Department made repeated amplified announcements to allow everyone time to gather their belongings and leave. Many people left. Final cleanup of the area is ongoing, and campus operations will remain remote for today. We will announce tomorrow's operations later today.  

At Wayne State, we live by an unwavering set of values – including collaboration, integrity, diversity and inclusion – as well as a commitment to safety, security and equity for our entire campus community. As president, I have a responsibility to uphold these values for all to live, learn and work. 

Since the encampment was established on May 23, it presented legal, health and safety, and operational challenges for our community. University leadership repeatedly engaged with occupants of the encampment; descriptions of our actions and videos of these interactions are archived publicly here.  

In each conversation, we reiterated that the occupants were trespassing on university property, and we asked that the encampment be removed. No individual or group is permitted to claim campus property for their own use and deny others access to that property. 

The encampment created multiple legal, health, and safety challenges that disrupted our operations and required us to shift to remote operations this week. The encampment also created an environment of exclusion – one in which some members of our campus community felt unwelcome and unable to fully participate in campus life.  

Wayne State University has a proud history of supporting freedom of speech, religion, and the right to peacefully protest, while respecting the voices of our students, faculty, staff, and community. When actions violate the law, threaten health and safety, or impair the ability of our campus community to conduct the work of the university, however, we must act.  

Meanwhile, we remain more committed than ever to our mission of creating and advancing knowledge, preparing a diverse student body to thrive, and positively impacting local and global communities. 

Thank you for your continued support of Wayne State's mission and values."

The encampment was set up a week ago by protesters to push the university to divest from companies and investment funds tied to Israel. 

The university moved classes online Tuesday due to the encampment, citing that it was a safety issue.

Wayne State University Vice President Patrick Lindsay approached the encampment and requested that two members meet with the Board of Governors and Espy. However, the two members declined the request and said they would like to have an open discussion with additional members of the encampment involved. 

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib joined the demonstrators in support on Monday night. 

Last week, police cleared the pro-Palestinian encampment that was set up at the University of Michigan

Stay with CBS News Detroit for live updates from the clearing of the encampment at Wayne State University

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