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Pro-Palestinian protesters set up encampment at University of Pittsburgh

One protestor at pro-Palestinian rally arrested at Pitt
One protestor at pro-Palestinian rally arrested at Pitt 00:55

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pro-Palestinian protesters have set up a new encampment at the University of Pittsburgh on Sunday. 

The protesters established the camp outside the Cathedral of Learning on Pitt's campus in the city's Oakland neighborhood. They set up a fence around the encampment, which features small and large tents. 

Amid the demonstration on Sunday, one protester was detained by police after trying to bring a case of water into the encampment. Police told protesters that they could not bring anything inside. Donald Johnson, 33, was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and obstruction. Pitt said Johnson is not affiliated with the university. 

The University of Pittsburgh issued a statement on Monday morning regarding the demonstration that said, in part:

"At approximately 6:00 p.m. on June 2, two demonstrations taking place in Oakland converged on the Cathedral of Learning lawn.  The group of demonstrators quickly erected wooden barricades, fencing, and other structures with tents inside."

Police set up a barricade around the encampment, which is on its second day. On Monday, the university's chancellor Joan Gabel said the protest has included the destruction of property and "other actions that do not lay the foundation for peaceful advocacy or open dialogue." She added that the demonstration is "markedly different from the largely peaceful protest in Schenley Plaza in April."

"A group of self-proclaimed leaders has emerged asking for meetings, but none of these leaders are students, and their affiliations are with organizations that also have no connection to the University," the chancellor's statement said on Monday. 

At around 9:30 p.m. on Monday, police officers in riot gear arrived at the encampment and formed a wall between the camp and those outside it. Before that, a Pitt police officer was pulled down when demonstrators pulled down some fencing. The officer denied any medical attention. A demonstrator also suffered a head laceration during that time and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. 

On Sunday, Pittsburgh Public Safety spokesperson Emily Bourne said the "encampment/sit-in situation at the University of Pittsburgh is strictly taking place on private campus property."

Demands of protesters at the University of Pittsburgh's encampment

When asked what message the protesters are trying to share, they referred KDKA-TV to a statement they posted on Instagram, which said in part:

"From its continued and deafening silence to material investments in the 'Israel' occupation, Pitt maintains its complicity in genocide in Gaza."

They are also asking for Pitt to "disclose all university investments," and "divest University of Pittsburgh finances, including the endowment, from companies and institutions that profit from Israel," among others. 

This comes after the Schenley Plaza encampment near the University of Pittsburgh cleared in late April near the end of the academic school year. During that time, two people were arrested by Pitt police as protesters tried to occupy the area around the Cathedral of Learning.

College campuses across the United States have seen demonstrations since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began in October.

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