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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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BREAKING: Protesters tear down barricades around GW’s University Yard encampment

Fourth day comes to a close as protesters clash with police

Editor’s note: This is reporting as of 10:00 a.m. April 29. The Eagle will monitor the situation through the day and continue to update coverage.

After an alleged removal by police of a protester at the encampment on George Washington University’s campus Sunday night, demonstrators took down the barricades around University Yard, piling them into the center of the lawn and leading chants from atop them. 

After the initial breakdown of barricades at 11:30 p.m., protesters swarmed the yard, bringing backpacks and tents with them from H Street.  

The Eagle received a statement at approximately 6:30 a.m. Monday morning from GW’s Executive Director of Media Relations and University Spokesman Josh Grossman regarding the “group of approximately 200 protesters from across the DMV” who “breached and dismantled the barriers used to secure GW’s University Yard.”

“This is an egregious violation of community trust and goes far beyond the boundaries of free expression and the right to protest,” Grossman wrote in the statement. “The university will use every avenue available to ensure those involved are held accountable for their actions.”

Matthew De Bellis, a junior in GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, witnessed the moment protesters tore down barricades and moved into University Yard. 

“I was just standing over here because I saw a bunch of people get into conflict and then of course, starting to arrest the student,” De Bellis said. “And moments later … a bunch of people grabbed the barricades, pushed into cops, the cops fell down, then everyone started running away.” 

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A video on the DMV Students for Justice in Palestine Instagram shows protesters wrestling a masked student from the cops with video with text reading, “Community successfully dearrests student.” The video concludes as cops let go of the student and he moves back into a crowd chanting, “Let him go.” 

“We are aware of false reports of an attempted arrest,” Grossman wrote in the statement. “A GW student jumped over the barricade to University Yard and was being escorted out by GWPD when the breach occurred. No arrest was made.”

Protesters began tearing down the barricades that have been in place since Friday and piled them in the middle of University Yard. A crowd formed around the pile, leading chants such as “We want justice, you say how? Cops off our campus now.” 

Organizers first urged the protesters to either join the crowd in the encampment or leave the demonstration, but later asked for a presence to be maintained on H Street, at approximately 12:25 a.m. They requested that those who remained on the street “take out [their] phones and film everything.”

Around 12:50 a.m., GW Provost Chris Bracey entered University Yard to chants from protesters of “Boo, shame on you.” Protesters approached him as he walked across the University Yard with one GW Police Department officer according to The Hatchet

In a video posted on Instagram by DMV SJP, Bracey is seen shoving the camera of a protester who was following and recording him. 

At approximately 1:15 a.m., an organizer incorrectly announced over a megaphone that the Hatchet reported that MPD would be coming in three hours with tear gas. The Hatchet corrected this claim, clarifying that it did not report that. 

Multiple times throughout the night, organizers told those on H Street to not listen to any announcements made by anyone but the organizers, saying that these potentially false claims were meant to incite fear. 

The Eagle obtained a GW alert text message sent at approximately 1:55 a.m. that read, “Urgent Police Activity around University Yard,” advising students to “Please avoid the area.”

Police vehicles remain on either side of H Street. As of 2:15 a.m., about a dozen police cars lined the 21st Street side of the demonstration and more than half a dozen police were outside the vehicles. There was a smaller presence on the 20th Street entrance, with only half a dozen vehicles. As of 8:00 a.m., police presence on both sides of H Street is similar with more officers within their vehicles.  

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Correction: A previous version of this article listed Chris Bracey, who is the provost at George Washington University, as the vice provost. The article has been updated to reflect his proper title.

Correction: A previous version of this article listed Matthew De Bellis, who is a junior, as a sophomore. The article has been updated to reflect his proper classification. 

Owen Auston-Babcock contributed reporting. 

This article was edited by Abigail Hatting, Tyler Davis and Abigail Turner. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks. 

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