Chicago police clear DePaul University’s pro-Palestinian encampment

CHICAGO — Chicago police dismantled DePaul University’s pro-Palestine encampment Thursday morning after administrators signed a complaint alleging trespassing by the protestors, officials said.

University leaders said Saturday they had reached an impasse in negotiations with organizers, but no intervention was taken throughout the week.

The encampment, erected April 30, had been Chicago’s last-standing university demonstration against the ongoing war in Gaza. Around 100 tents were pitched on the university’s main quad in Lincoln Park. Encampments were previously erected Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Friday morning, about two dozen police officers stood on West Fullerton Avenue outside the main quad. They stood their bikes in a line to make a barricade while a group of organizers faced them and yelled messages in protest.

“Let’s wake up the neighborhood,” said one.

No protesters or police officers were injured during the clearing, though two people were arrested afterwards for blocking traffic, according to CPD spokesman Tom Ahern.

President Rob Manuel alerted the DePaul community of the removal in an email at 5:30 a.m., which said that student leaders were uncompromising as the encampment “steadily escalated.” All protestors would be given the opportunity to leave peacefully without arrest, he said.

“From the beginning of the encampment, I have said that we would protect free speech and the ability to dissent until it either prevented us from carrying out the operations of our university or threatened the safety of the members of our community,” Manuel said. “I am deeply saddened to say the encampment has crossed that line.

The university said that it has received more than 1,000 complaints of discrimination and harassment over the course of the encampment, including one death threat. Some protestors had vandalized buildings and other structures in the quad, causing an estimated $180,000 in physical damage, according to Manuel.

The quad was closed at 7:15 a.m. to allow police and the university’s Office of Public Safety to remove tents. Students who attempt to breach the fence surrounding the area will be arrested and suspended, officials said.

Rumors of a possible raid had been circling through the encampment for days. Early Friday morning, organizers warned international students and those who didn’t want to risk getting arrested to get off campus, said senior Simran Bains.

“The platitudes about keeping people safe … it was all a lie,” she said.

Parveen Mundi, DePaul student body president, woke up at 5:30 a.m. to protesters warning of the raid through megaphones. When police arrived, students were forced off the lawn, she said. Later, DePaul staff loaded tents frames, signs, clothes and trash into garbage truck compressors.

“The cops had already surrounded the camp by the time I woke up,” Mundi said. “The biggest question we all had was whether this university would have the decency and personalism to say whether or not they would use police to intervene.”

In a statement when the encampment first went up, DePaul said that although the tents violate “a variety of university policies,” the administration remained “steadfastly devoted to academic freedom and free speech.”

Since then, campus unrest has become more widespread. Aside from the raid last week at the University of Chicago, last Saturday, Chicago police arrested nearly 70 protesters last week at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Loop.

Israel launched its bombardment of Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, where the group killed some 1,200 people and took 250 hostages. Since then, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.