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9 arrested at U of M pro-Palestinian protests, another encampment cleared overnight

9 arrested at University of Minnesota pro-Palestinian protest
9 arrested at University of Minnesota pro-Palestinian protest 05:40

MINNEAPOLIS — Several protesters were arrested on Tuesday morning at the University of Minnesota, where they had set up a pro-Palestinian encampment to demand the university divest from companies and academic institutions they say support Israel.

The student coalition set up tents in front of the Walter Library at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, and around 6:30 a.m., university police started "harassing" the encampment, protesters said. Officers arrested eight students and an employee, according to a university spokesperson.

Video posted to the U of M Students for Justice in Palestine Instagram showed a group of students sitting on the ground in the lawn shouting "the students are here to stay," as police approached and separated the group members one by one and loaded them into the back of squad cars.

"The group was asked to disperse by 7 a.m. and told they would be arrested if they chose to stay past that time," the spokesperson said. "Some of those present chose to disperse and continue peacefully protesting, but nine chose to remain and were arrested without incident."  


The spokesperson said the U of M "supports and respects free speech through lawful protest," but that "tents are not allowed on any University property for any purpose without a permit."

"I want to be clear that protests where groups express diverse views and opinions occur regularly on our campus and typically occur without arrests. The choice to establish and remain in a prohibited encampment led to this morning's arrests," the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson with the U said the civil trespass warning will be set aside for the eight students and one employee arrested Tuesday morning. They will be allowed on campus to work and attend scheduled classes and will "be subject to the university's process for assessing additional consequences" under applicable policies.

Second encampment cleared at U of M overnight

Dozens of students were gathered outside Coffman Memorial Union on Tuesday night with plans to sleep in tents.

According to a statement from the university, police with the university approached the encampment shortly after 11 p.m. and "communicated that those present were in violation of University policy and state trespassing law."

"This was a similar warning to the one provided to those who established an encampment earlier in the day on the other end of the Northrop Mall," the statement said. "Those in this evening's encampment dispersed, and tents and other structures were removed."

The university did not say whether there were arrests in the clearing of the second encampment. 

The campus was quiet early Wednesday morning, with chalk graffiti left behind on the union's facade and sidewalks. 


The protesters' demands

The protesters were demanding the university divest from companies such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Honeywell, as well as ban them from recruiting on campus. They also are demanding the university divest "militarized Israeli institutions that are currently aiding the ongoing genocide in Gaza" such as Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Haifa University and Global E3's Technion. 

"The only reason that we are doing this is because our demands have not been met as students," said Donia, University of Minnesota Co-President of Students for Justice in Palestine.  

The arrests at the U of M are the latest in a wave of tensions across college campuses, as police arrest pro-Palestinian protesters and some Jewish students report feeling unsafe due to incidents of antisemitism. More than 100 people have been arrested at Columbia University since late last week, and similar protests have rocked MIT, NYU, the University of Michigan and Yale.   

The protests come as Israel's war against Hamas continues in Gaza, where the Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 34,000 people have been killed, most of them women and children. Over the weekend, Israeli strikes in the southern Gaza city of Rafah killed 18 people, including 14 children — the latest instance of its near-daily routine of air raids — while the U.S. House approved $26.4 billion in aid to Israel.

Rep. Ilhan Omar joins student demonstrators

After the arrests Tuesday morning, hundreds more showed up to join the protest outside the student union.

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar showed up in the evening to support students after her daughter was suspended following a similar protest in New York City

"I have to tell you I am incredibly moved by your courage and bravery as a student body in putting your bodies on the line to stand in solidarity to end the genocide that is taking place in Gaza at this moment," Omar said.

Rep. Ilhan Omar WCCO

Omar's presence at the rally was sharply rebuked by Republican Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer, who said in a statement released on Wednesday that his colleague's involvement was "unacceptable."

"Omar's pro-Hamas rhetoric solidifies the Democrat party as the pro-terrorist party," Emmer said. "Now more than ever, we must protect Jewish students."

Groups representing Jewish students say some of the chants and signs are offensive and call the rise of antisemitism a troubling trend since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, including at the U of M.

"We're concerned for the safety of Jewish students, we're concerned for the safety of all students," said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. "The university should be a place for peaceful, respectful dialogue. People can disagree but should not intimidate and harass."

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