April 30, 2024 / Modified apr 30, 2024 12:27 p.m.

UA "Liberation Zone" encampment disbands after two police warnings

No arrests were made, but protestors said they would return the following day.

signs-palestine A sign calls for university divestment in Raytheon, a weapon's manufacturer in the University of Arizona's pro-Palestine encampment on Monday, April 29, 2024.
Hannah Cree

The University of Arizona’s pro-Palestinian encampment disbanded Monday night after facing threats of arrest and expulsion from University of Arizona police.

University administration took to loudspeakers adjacent from the encampment and announced two warnings, at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. They also posted signs with QR codes linking directly to a website displaying the University policy.

As the sun set, heavy police presence surrounded the encampment, including at least three Sheriff’s Department SWAT vehicles.

At the protest’s peak, around 15 pop-up tents and estimates of around 200 students and community members chanted, sang, and danced. They wore keffiyehs and covered their faces, asking the press to be referred to by only their first names.

Earlier in the afternoon, protestor Lilly said the threat of arrest was not enough to stop her from showing up.

“This is a very well documented genocide, we can see it happening. Seeing social media posts of children escaping from the rubble. You know, my future matters, but so does theirs,” she said.

police-palestine-4-29 VIEW LARGER
Hannah Cree

At 9:30, the group of about 100 remaining protesters announced they held an internal vote, and there was not enough support to stay the night and risk arrest.

Protestors said arrests were detrimental to their cause of calling for University leadership to divest in it’s business ties to Israel and Raytheon, the weapon’s manufacturer.

“If 30 or 40 of you get arrested, we cannot continue the fight for a divest movement on this campus,” an organizer told the crowd. “We are at the very early stages of a divestment campaign.”

There was some internal pushback from protestors who seemingly wanted to stay and be arrested, but at 10:30 all protestors had disbanded.

Palestinian American Muna Hijazi said she thinks it’s better to regroup.

“I think the students were right in saying ‘let’s disperse tonight, come back even stronger, and make sure our message is even louder and that Gaza can hear us tomorrow.”

In response to the protestors disbanding, University Communications released the following statement at 10:30 last night:

"The University of Arizona demonstrated its commitment to respecting and protecting the free speech rights of our students and the community in accordance with established campus use policies. Tonight illustrated the value of community dialogue between organizers, campus leaders, and public safety."

Due to safety concerns, protestors kept plans of new encampments to private chats.

This is a developing story.

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