🔴 Around 100 people set up six tents at Princeton University Thursday morning

🔴 Students were warned of the consequences if they participated in the encampment

🔴 The encampment broke up after two graduate students were arrested

PRINCETON — A pro-Palestinian encampment set up at Princeton University — under the threat of arrest and possible expulsion for participants — quickly ended Thursday with two arrests.

Students working with the group Al-Awda took over the McCosh Courtyard around 7 a.m., according to a statement from the protesters. They demand that the university, like other schools across the country, divest from Israel and that the country end its retaliatory action against Gaza.

According to university spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill, fewer than 100 individuals erected a half dozen tents. After the university's Department of Public Safety told the group to disperse, two graduate students were arrested for trespassing. They have been barred from campus pending a disciplinary process.

The rest of the group took their tents down voluntarily, according to Morrill.

Students were sent an email Wednesday by Rochelle Calhoun, Princeton's Vice President Campus Life promising swift action against any encampment or protest. Participants risked arrests, loss of their academic credits earned this semester and possible suspension or expulsion.

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Princeton: Encampment is 'inconsistent with university mission'

Calhoun said that the university has hosted 75 orderly protests, rallies and marches this academic year. The encampment, which involves sleeping outdoors and blocking, would be a violation of campus policy and potentially endanger the campus.

"They are also inconsistent with the University’s mission and its legal obligation to provide a safe environment for all students and employees," Calhoun said in the email. "For those reasons, among others, our policies explicitly prohibit such conduct, and I want to be sure you understand that we will act promptly in order to address it.

According to the protesters two students were "violently arrested" before 9 a.m. and given five minutes to clear out their living space.

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Protester demands

The protesters want the university to issue a statement "calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and condemning Israel's genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people."

They also demand that Princeton end weapons research funded by the Department of Defense.

"The Princeton students' demands build on the work of Princeton's divestment campaign and echo the demands of students across the country," the protesters said in a statement. "Today's mobilization is part of a broad coalition of students that fundamentally believes in putting an end to the Israeli occupation."

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Protests at other colleges

Large protests at other elite schools including Columbia University in New York have led to arrests and students returning to remote learning.

Columbia University president Minouche Shafik asked the NYPD to intervene, resulting in the arrests of more than 100 protesters. It only served to motivate the demonstrators, who quickly regrouped — and to inspire other students at campuses around the country.

At Emerson College in Boston, 108 people were arrested and four police officers suffered injuries that were not life-threatening at an encampment, Boston police said Thursday. Those arrested were expected to appear in Boston Municipal Court.

Another 93 people were arrested Wednesday night during a protest at the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles Police Department said. There were no reports of injuries.

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(Includes material Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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