19 protesters arrested after trying to occupy Penn's Fisher-Bennett Hall

Saturday, May 18, 2024
Philly police arrest several protesters during Penn demonstration
Philadelphia police arrest several protesters during demonstration at Penn

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Nineteen protesters were arrested Friday night during a demonstration on the University of Pennsylvania campus.

Chopper 6 was overhead around 9 p.m. as Philadelphia police swarmed the university and scuffled with some pro-Palestinian demonstrators in the city's University City section.

Members of the Penn Gaza Solidarity said they were planning to occupy the Fisher-Bennett Hall. A Penn spokesperson said a group of individuals entered the hall and attempted to occupy it before police arrived.

Chopper 6 overhead as police scuffle with protesters on Penn's campus on May 17, 2024.

The Action Cam was on the scene as officers could be seen taking protesters away in handcuffs in the area of 34th and Walnut streets.

According to the university, 19 people, including seven Penn students, were arrested. Twelve people were issued citations for failure to disperse and failure to follow police commands and were later released.

Seven protesters remain in custody awaiting felony charges, including one for assaulting a police officer.

After the Fisher-Bennett Hall was cleared, a Penn spokesperson said officers found "lock-picking tools and homemade metal shields fashioned from oil drums."

"The exit doors had been secured with zip-ties, barbed wire, and barricaded with metal chairs and desks, and the windows were covered over with newspaper and cardboard. Bike racks and metal chairs were also found blocking outside entrances. Penn remains focused on maintaining the safety and security of our campus," the spokesperson added in a statement.

IMAGE: The Action Cam was on Penn's campus as Philadelphia police arrested several protesters on May 17, 2024.
IMAGE: The Action Cam was on Penn's campus as Philadelphia police arrested several protesters on May 17, 2024.

Before dispersing just before 11 p.m., demonstrators marched from the campus to the Penn Museum and then to Franklin Field, where commencement ceremonies are being held in the coming days.

Protesters say they decided to take over Fisher Bennett Hall because Penn administrators failed to meet their demands and refused to negotiate in good faith. They want administrators to disclose Penn's investments, divest from Israeli companies and defend pro-Palestine protesters.

Friday's protest comes a week after police dismantled a two-week encampment on the College Green.