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Protests continue after Wayne State police clear pro-Palestinian encampment on campus

Charles E. Ramirez and Marnie Muñoz, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

DETROIT — Critics of Wayne State's connections to Israel continued to protest Thursday morning, even after the university dismantled a pro-Palestinian encampment that was up since late last week.

After the camp's removal around 5:30 a.m. Thursday, a group of approximately 50 protesters gathered on the sidewalk at Anthony Wayne Drive and Williams Mall to continue chanting, standing in front of more than a dozen Wayne State police officers in riot gear. The group began protesting peacefully around the block from the encampment on State Hall's lawn at 8:15 a.m.

Four protesters were detained, including one protester who broke off from the group and attempted to take down police tape. It was unclear why the other three were detained.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents Detroit, joined the protesters around 8:30 a.m., angrily confronting a police officer about ripping off one protester's hijab, or head scarf.

“You guys ripped a hijab off? They’re kids!” she told campus police. "...No amount of training is going to teach you guys not to take a scarf off. Know the diversity of your campus.”

The encampment was dismantled early Thursday, largely for safety reasons, university officials said.

 

Wayne State President Kimberly Andrews Espy said university police announced to occupants at about 5:30 a.m. that they needed to gather their belongings and leave. Police told occupants to go and then used "an amplified sound system" to make sure the announcement was heard, said a university spokesman.

"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," said Espy in a statement Thursday morning.

Espy said the encampment presented legal, health and safety, and operational challenges for the university's community since protestors established it on May 23.

"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," Espy said.

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