DC Police Refuse GWU Request to Arrest Students

The Washington D.C. police turned down a request by George Washington University president to clear out the anti-genocide encampment on campus, reports Joe Lauria.

Students in fiery protest at GWU on Thursday. (Joe Lauria)

By Joe Lauria
in Washington, D.C.
Special to Consortium News

From the university’s perspective, it seemed like the perfect time for the police to move in and break up the students’ anti-genocide camp:  3 a.m. 

George Washington University had given the students until 7 p.m. on Thursday night to clear out. Instead more than a thousand students from other area universities and other supporters flooded the university yard, forming a circle around the camp. 

As the time advanced beyond midnight the crowd dwindled, leaving the encampment less protected.  It seemed logical that under the cover of darkness, with fewer media also present, the police would intervene, as they have on a growing number of campuses around the United States.

And that’s what the GWU president wanted.  But the Washington mayor and the police brass refused, according to The Washington Post.   

“D.C. police rejected pleas from George Washington University officials to clear pro-Palestinian demonstrators out of an on-campus encampment early Friday morning, saying they worried about the optics of moving against a small number of peaceful protesters, according to two officials familiar with the talks,” the Post reported

The newspaper said:

“Officers had assembled around 3 a.m. and were prepared to enter the encampment, but senior leaders in the police chief’s and mayor’s office ordered them to stand down, the officials said. The demonstrators were small in number and largely peaceful, and the city officials told their university counterparts they wanted to avoid images of violent altercations between police and protesters flashing across TV screens across the country. The George Washington campus is just west of downtown Washington, five blocks from the White House.” 

This is a critical moment in the way the U.S. and European establishments deal with the exploding resistance to their unconscionable support for genocide.

Either they face the stark reality that their actions are spurring fierce resistance that threatens their political survival, and thus stop arming and funding Israel, or they increase the repression against opposition, beginning with the student protestors.  These decisions will be made in the coming days and will have enormous repercussions.  

That the Washington mayor and police chiefs showed the guts to leave the students alone reveals serious doubts creeping into official thinking. Even public officials see what Israel is doing. 

Around the US

Meanwhile, campus rebellions against Israel’s ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people and the U.S. support for it, is spreading rapidly.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted out this map on Friday:   

At New York University professors blocked the police from going after their students. Encampments sprung up at the City College of New York (CCNY) part of the City University (CUNY); and at the University of Connecticut. There was police violence at Ohio State, as these tweets report:  

And in Berlin, German police forcibly broke up an anti-genocide camp at the Reichstag.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

22 comments for “DC Police Refuse GWU Request to Arrest Students

  1. John Z
    April 29, 2024 at 15:18

    Tears of joy! Thank God for the student protestors who are showing the world the face of kindness, justice, and sanity.

  2. April 29, 2024 at 14:20

    The nationally coordinated 3 am police crackdowns are exactly the same as those used to crush the Occupy Wall Street movement.

    So are the encirclement defense tactics. I was part of an emergency defense team at Zucotti that successfully blocked the first NYC Police attempt to crush the place.

  3. April 29, 2024 at 14:17

    Add the University of Pennsylvania to the list of campus protests.

  4. Michael McNulty
    April 28, 2024 at 05:55

    Did the bosses say no or was it really the rank and file?

  5. bardamu
    April 27, 2024 at 22:43

    It is a big day in such matters when the police stand down. Applause for their decision. May word go forth that this is an option for them.

  6. Joy
    April 27, 2024 at 19:33

    Students at Columbia are suing their administration. Palestine Legal is representing them. We can support them at palestinelegal.org/donate

  7. Lois Gagnon
    April 27, 2024 at 19:20

    I attended a protest for Gaza at UMASS yesterday. The reason for the protest was a new chancellor was being inaugurated. The students showed up in force to make their message loud and clear. They expect divestment from the military and Israel. They were peaceful and well organized. The UMASS police were well behaved and polite. I hope the attitude of the police continues and the students prevail.

  8. Drew Hunkins
    April 27, 2024 at 16:36

    It’s critical to understand that this is very, very different from the Soros ID politics obsessed BLM riots and violent mayhem of 2020.

    With the BLM chaos and vandalism it was obvious that that culture war trip had the unvarnished support and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from the Zionist dominated Wall Street and corporate America. Even institutions of the federal govt’s “deep state” supported BLM to the hilt.

    With these amazing and heartening anti-genocide demonstrations, we see respected professors harshly tossed to the ground by heavy handed cops, we see harmless students in tents uprooted and forced to flee, we see major corporate employers threatening the students with a disgusting employment blacklist.

    During BLM the rioters were allowed to torch cities and business with virtual impunity. During these pro-Palestine protests one’s barely allowed to say “From the river to the sea” without the threat of possible eviction or unemployment hovering in the background.

  9. Richard Burrill
    April 27, 2024 at 13:46

    I think we should all remember what happened when the National Guard was called in at Kent State years ago. If you don’t, you must listen to “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield.

  10. Selina Sweet
    April 27, 2024 at 13:32

    Let it be noted. Muriel Bowser is the D.C. Mayor who wisely supported the students’ peaceful
    protest. Now that is worthy of a closer look. What contributed to such a departure by D.C.
    officials from decisions made by all the other officials in university towns where protesters
    were man handled and their protest broken up?

  11. Selina Sweet
    April 27, 2024 at 13:26

    More power to the students’ hearts so true to what has been the best of this democracy – its humanitarianism, its caring
    for people. And Bravo to the NYU professors intervening between protesters and police to protect their students, to protect
    the shredding of the freedom to dissent, to assemble, to protest.

  12. CaseyG
    April 27, 2024 at 12:21

    Joe Biden and cronies showed how little We the People and our rights and values are noted. What was done to students and professors was a horror. Police so willing to attack and drag students the ground and immediately arrest them. It was horrifying to see that one policeman grab the professor and throw her to the ground in such a fury! I hope no bones were broken in that irresponsible action

    Freedom of assembly and the right to free speech—wow, I guess most police skipped that information. Then of course, there is BiBi, a man who wants to control the world—maybe bankrupt or even blow up America if that nation didn’t agree? But Biden did agree. Amazing how Biden , supposedly once a “good Catholic boy, ” became a Nazi.

  13. Cal Lash
    April 27, 2024 at 11:54

    Good move

  14. Em
    April 27, 2024 at 11:48

    This is precisely what the ultranationalist, lunatic fringe of the zealous Zionist genociders cannot, or will not grasp: increasing “the repression against (the daily mounting) opposition” to the unrelenting daily barbarities it is meting out on non-Jewish Arab Palestinians is having; as yet, unmeasurable globally consequential repercussions for Israel, the state itself, let alone for the negative paranoid affects it is imprinting in the minds of global Jewry.

  15. Randal Marlin
    April 27, 2024 at 11:45

    At Emory University, Georgia, a husky police forced a female professor to the ground and, with the help of another officer, handcuffed her, arms behind her back.
    Online: “In a video recorded by CNN, an economics professor, Caroline Fohlin approached police officers who were holding a student down and asked “Oh my God, what are you doing?” Fohlin urged officers to leave the student and leaned closer but did not touch them or any of the officers. In the midst, the officer pushed her away, despite her protests, and she was forcefully thrown to the ground. Another officer assisted in pushing her into the ground, securing her hands with zip ties behind her back. As they handcuffed her, Fohlin repeatedly told them, ‘I am a professor.'”
    I watched the video and I could hear her say, once, briefly, when her hands were behind her back and she was on the ground, “I can’t breathe.”

  16. Sharon Aldrich
    April 27, 2024 at 11:41

    So heartening to hear this news! Thanks to those courageous protesters, there is hope that this atrocity is on the way to extinction! And thanks to some wise and careful thinking by the D.C. Police decision makers!

  17. Vera Gottlieb
    April 27, 2024 at 11:29

    BRAVO!!! It is time to understand that it isn’t about ‘anti Semitism’; rather about the right of Palestinians to return to the lands stolen by the Zionists.

  18. susan
    April 27, 2024 at 11:02

    My state’s universities are not yet protesting the genocide in Gaza but hopefully they will soon join the other universities throughout the country and the world where students and faculty are standing up to and speaking out against vile western slaughter…

  19. Caliman
    April 27, 2024 at 10:48

    Who are these University presidents and why are they such F_ing cowards?

  20. hetro
    April 27, 2024 at 09:52

    Here’s hoping you’re right that “serious doubts” are creeping into official thinking at the level of what’s right and moral, vs opportunistic and imdge-driven. These serious doubts are what’s needed inside the ranks of the oppressors. I’m recalling what happened in Manila in the 1980’s when the police refused to obey Marcos and he had to flee the country, aided by Reagan. A day of great joy for the Philippines.

  21. YesXorNo
    April 27, 2024 at 09:04

    An excellent report.

    It is heartening to see the bravery, morality and solidarity of the protesting students.

    • JohnB
      April 27, 2024 at 13:03

      Feels good to have such neighbors again.

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