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University of Minnesota protesters pack up after reaching agreement with interim president

Protesters remove encampment from the University of Minnesota
Protesters remove encampment from the University of Minnesota 02:13

MINNEAPOLIS — Protesters at a pro-Palestinian encampment that has occupied a portion of the University of Minnesota campus since Tuesday packed up following a tentative agreement with university administration Thursday.

Jeff Ettinger, the U's interim president, sent an email to all students, faculty and staff stating an agreement was made with student protest organizers to end the encampment on Thursday morning.

The 13 buildings near Northrop Mall that were closed this week reopened after the encampment was cleared. The coalition has agreed not to disrupt finals and commencement ceremonies. Students started taking down tents around 9 a.m.

The student group had six demands:  

  • Divest from groups like Honeywell and General Dynamics
  • Academic divestment from Israeli universities
  • Transparency about university investments
  • Statement in support of Palestinian students
  • Statement in support of Palestinians' right to self-determination
  • Amnesty for arrested students

Leaders of the pro-Palestinian coalition met with Ettinger on Wednesday, where they made it clear they would not rest until all six of their demands were met. The original meeting, which was scheduled for 30 minutes, stretched into more than 90 minutes, and the groups met an additional two times after that, Ettinger said. 

"We regret that these meetings did not happen sooner, and have committed to regular meetings moving forward to continue to discuss this coalition's concerns," Ettinger said. "While there is more work to do, and conversations are still planned with other student groups affected by the painful situation in Palestine, I am heartened by today's progress."

In a letter sent out to faculty and student body, Ettinger wrote that coalition representatives will be given the opportunity to address the Board of Regents at its May 10 meeting to discuss divestment from certain companies. Public disclosure of university investments would be made available by May 7. 

Ettinger also said that the administration has encouraged university police not to arrest or charge anyone for encampment activities in the past few days, and will not pursue disciplinary action against students or employees for participating with the encampment. Police have not made any arrests on campus since nine people were detained on April 22.

"Obviously some people are like, 'If we leave and they take it back, then we're going to come back and re-camp,'" protester Angelica Torres said.

He also added that the administration would be meeting with Jewish students on Thursday, who have reported feeling unsafe on campus amid imagery and messages on campus they said glorify terrorism.

In a statement after the agreement, the Jewish Community Relations Council said "the University of Minnesota continues to let our community down."

"The University's capitulation sends a message that students who violate U of M policy, openly celebrate violence, and shut down campus are rewarded with time before the Regents and 'regular meetings moving forward' with the President's office," the JCRC said. "By contrast, students targeted by antisemitism are apparently supposed to suffer silently, while their University appeases those very same activists who demonize Jews and Israelis."

Campus protests nationwide

Wednesday's demonstrations at the U were spirited but much more peaceful than what's been seen in other parts of the U.S. in recent days.  On Thursday morning, police began dismantling an encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles after hundreds of protesters defied police orders. At Columbia University in New York on Tuesday night, officers used flash bangs to disorient protesters gathered inside Hamilton Hall.  


The nationwide movement started at Columbia on April 17 to protest Israel's offensive in Gaza. Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since Hamas launched a deadly attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, according to a local public health ministry. Hamas militants killed roughly 1,200 people and took about 250 hostages.

President Joe Biden is speaking on Thursday morning on the protests at college campuses before leaving for events in North Carolina. The White House has previously condemned violence and antisemitic rhetoric at some of the protests, while saying that students have the right to protest peacefully.

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