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Police dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment at DePaul University in Chicago

CHICAGO — Police began dismantling a pro-Palestinian encampment early Thursday at DePaul University in Chicago, hours after the school’s president told students to leave the area or face arrest.

Officers and workers in yellow vests cleared out tents and camping equipment at the student encampment, leaving behind yellow squares of dead or dying grass where the tents had stood. Front-loaders were being used to remove the camping equipment.

Just across the street from where the encampment was spread across a grassy expanse of DePaul’s campus known as “The Quad,” a few dozen protesters stood along a sidewalk in front of a service station, clapping their hands in unison as an apparent protest leader paced back and forth before them, speaking into a bullhorn.

All of the protesters at the encampment “voluntarily left” the area when police arrived early Thursday, said Jon Hein, chief of patrol for the Chicago Police Department.

“There were no confrontations and there was no resistance,” he said at a news briefing. “As we approached, all the subjects voluntarily left the area.”

Hein said, however, that two people, a male and female in their 20s, were arrested outside the encampment “for obstruction of traffic.”

DePaul President Robert Manuel said in a statement that one of those arrested is a current DePaul student and the second is a former student. He added that no injuries were reported to the university.

The move to clear the campus comes less than a week after the school’s president said public safety was at risk.

Students at many college campuses this spring set up similar encampments, calling for their schools to cut ties with Israel and businesses that support it, to protest lsrael’s actions in the war with Hamas. The protests began as schools were winding up their spring semesters and are now holding graduation ceremonies.

Separately, 50 people were arrested at University of California, Irvine on Wednesday, university spokesperson Tom Vasich said in an email on Thursday morning. A few were arrested for trespassing, but a majority were arrested for failure to disperse after a direct police order, Vasich said. The booking process began on campus and those arrested were taken to the Orange County jail, where booking and processing were completed. They were then released, he said.

Chancellor Howard Gillman issued a statement late Wednesday saying he was planning to allow the peaceful encampment to remain on campus even though it violated university policies, but the school called in police after a small group barricaded themselves inside a campus lecture hall, supported by a large group of community members rallying outside.

He said the group transformed what had been a manageable situation into one that required police response and demanded to oversee many elements of university operations.

“Most importantly, their assault on the academic freedom rights of our faculty and the free speech rights of faculty and students was appalling,” Gillman said in the statement.

Also Wednesday, 11 members of a group protesting at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville who did not vacate the area despite repeated warnings were arrested for trespassing, the university said in a statement. Those arrested included three students and eight people who are not affiliated with the university. Any students who were arrested will also be referred to student conduct, officials said.

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