Protesters march in University City after police dismantle Penn's encampment

Around 10 p.m., Chopper 6 was overhead as the group marched east up Chestnut Street toward Drexel University's campus.

Saturday, May 11, 2024
Protesters march near Penn after police dismantle encampment
Protesters march in University City after police dismantle Penn's encampment

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pro-Palestinian protesters marched near the University of Pennsylvania Friday night hours after police dismantled a two-week encampment at the Ivy League campus in Philadelphia.

At one point, the group stood outside the official residence of the president. Several people entered the gate of the property before police officers moved in.

Protesters demonstrate outside of the Penn president's residence on May 10, 2024.

It remains unclear if Interim President Larry Jameson uses the property, which is located on the 3800 block of Walnut Street.

Around 10 p.m., Chopper 6 was overhead as the group marched east up Chestnut Street toward Drexel University's campus before dispersing for the night.

Earlier in the morning, police officers, some in riot gear, took action around daybreak to remove protesters from an encampment that was in place for 16 days. School officials said protesters were given warnings and the chance to leave without being detained.

Initially, officials said 33 people, including faculty members and seven students, were among those arrested and charged with trespass, the school said. Later, school officials said nine students were among those arrested and that the remainder were people who had no affiliation with Penn.

Dozens of protesters arrested as police clear encampment at the University of Pennsylvania

Upon searching the encampment, Penn police recovered several long lengths of heavy gauge chains, as well as smaller chains with nuts and bolts attached that police said could be used as weapons, officials said.

Because this was an operation led by Penn police, the Philadelphia D.A.'s Office has no plans to file charges against any of the protesters.

Police have begun arriving at the University of Pennsylvania campus amid heightened calls for the 2-week pro-Palestinian encampment to disband.

By mid-morning College Green, the site of the encampment, had been cleared out, though fences remained up to prevent people from accessing the area.

Protest sympathizers also gathered at 34th and Walnut streets on Friday morning.

Some sat down on the street in an effort to form a blockade to stop traffic, including police vehicles. Others yelled into the crowd as officers surrounded them.

Some sympathizers of the protesters also gathered at 34th Street and Walnut streets on Friday morning.

The decision to forcibly remove the protesters and haul them off to jail outraged Penn faculty member Tulia Falleti.

She said she will resign as chair of the faculty Senate after Penn's actions on Friday.

"I can no longer work collaboratively with an administration that has arrested its own students," Falleti said.

Students on campus say they were hopeful for a peaceful end to the saga. However, third-year student Ahmed Abdella said Penn administrators needed to do a much better job at bringing both Jewish and pro-Palestinian students together to hear each other out.

"I have Jewish friends who feel unsafe. I have Palestinian friends who feel like the campus doesn't care about them at all. So, at the end of the day, I think what we need is more real discussion. We need our president to actually go in there," Abdellah said.

The operation to clear the encampment was largely peaceful, compared to the chaos that has erupted on college campuses in other states.

During the two-week-long encampment, the protesters had demanded Penn disclose its investments and cut ties with businesses that support Israel.

Gov. Shapiro condemned encampment hours before police moved in

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro weighed in on Thursday, saying that is was "past time for the university to act, to address this, to disband this encampment and restore order and safety on campus."

He also called the situation at Penn "unstable" and "unacceptable" just hours before the encampment was dismantled.

"All students should feel safe when they're on campus. All students have a legal right to feel safe on campus, and the University of Pennsylvania has an obligation to their safety. It is past time for the university to act, to address this to disband the encampment and to restore order and safety on campus," Shapiro said.

Philadelphia police in riot gear moved in Friday morning on the pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Pennsylvania campus

Penn students placed on mandatory leave speak out

The governor's statements came as six student protesters were placed on mandatory temporary leaves of absence, according to Penn.

The students spoke with Action News right after they found out and said at least one of them would not be able to attend graduation. Another is an international student from the Philippines who said she's now locked out of her dorm and that their campus IDs no longer work.

They're calling the lockout illegal under municipal law.

"I've been evicted from my student housing so my Penn card no longer works to get me in the building. A few community members offered to house me in the meantime, but we'll continue to be here," said student protester Eliana Atienza.

"I believe that the character we demonstrate within this encampment will always be more valuable to me and more worthwhile than the risks that we face in standing up for those values," added fellow student protester Emma Herdon.

The six who are currently restricted from campus facilities and events say they only have access to health care facilities on campus.

"This is not a permanent process but it is indicative of the harshness and cruelty of the university's demands," said student protester Sonya Stacia.

"These actions are a result of the University's continuing response to the unauthorized encampment on College Green," a statement from the university said.

Penn to have increased security for commencement

Penn has announced increased security measures for commencement later this month.

Penn officials say there will be a "high level of security" at all Franklin Field gates and on the field inside the stadium for the May 20 graduation ceremony.

All graduates and guests will also have to clear airport-style security screening. Officials warn this will slow entry into the venue and urge attendees to plan accordingly.

Gates will open at 8 a.m. and the ceremony will begin at 10:15 a.m.

Graduates will be required to show their Penn ID to access the field.

For a full list of safety protocols, visit this page at