Demonstrators rallied support by seizing Israeli moves in Rafah

Faculty rallied Monday in support of protesting students at the University of Chicago.debt…Carlos Javier Ortiz for The New York Times

A group of University of Chicago professors said Monday that they could face arrest along with students if police officers try to disperse an increasingly fortified pro-Palestinian encampment on a campus quad. Their announcement came after a week of mixed signals from administrators about whether and when they might seek to evict protesters.

“As faculty members, we will protect the safety of our students, even if it means arrest and detention, if the administration tries to violently remove them,” said Elham Mireshki, an assistant professor at the Divinity School of Chicago.

The announcement by the teachers, who stood on the steps of a campus building, came after a tense weekend in which protesters attempted a police crackdown. After initially taking a permissive approach to the crowd of tents that went up last week, the university’s president, Paul Alivisados, wrote a letter Friday morning saying the camp “cannot continue.”

“We will only intervene if the exercise of free expression impedes the learning or expression of others or substantially disrupts the operation or security of the university,” Dr Alivisatos wrote on Friday. “Without an agreement to end the camp, we have reached that point.”

Many assumed police action was imminent after his letter was published, and a brief scuffle between protesters and counter-protesters on Friday led to a heightened law enforcement presence. But officials made no attempt to force protesters from the Quad, and administrators and protesters resumed talks over the weekend.

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The Chicago camp, one of dozens of Chicago camps across the country, has drawn attention because it is home to the Chicago Report. free speech The standards adopted in 2015 have become a touchstone and guide for colleges across the country. Professors said Monday that the university would violate those policies if it tried to remove the camp by force.

The protest “highlights the values ​​of inquiry and free expression espoused by the University of Chicago,” said Jessica Darrow, who teaches at the university’s school of social work. “The demands of our students are fair and clear. They use what they have learned in lessons and from each other to create a peaceful, welcoming and educational space.

In 2021, the University’s President, Chemist Dr. Alivisatos accused protesters on Friday of damaging buildings, blocking sidewalks, destroying nearby Israeli flags and flying a Palestinian flag from a university flagpole. A university spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions Monday.

Demonstrators told their supporters late Sunday night that they hoped the police would move soon, but authorities did not take such action. Anton Ford, a philosophy professor, said dozens of faculty members arrived at the camp early Sunday night in anticipation of a police raid, most prepared to be arrested.

“Our immediate concern is the welfare of our students,” said Dr. Ford. “We don’t want them to get hit because they’re camping in the grass.”

By Monday morning, the encampment of several dozen tents looked considerably stronger than it had been a few days earlier. Makeshift fences surrounded the tents, large pieces of plywood were erected around parts of the perimeter and a cluster of hard hats were visible inside. A small number of security guards and university police officers were stationed nearby.

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But away from camp, it seemed like any other spring Monday at the university, one of the nation’s most selective private institutions. Students studied on park benches, grabbed coffee at campus shops, and posed for photos in graduation gowns.

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