Decision to clear George Washington University encampment came after protest became more 'volatile'

D.C. Police Chief Pamela Smith said the decision to remove protesters from the campus of George Washington University was made Monday with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser after they reviewed intelligence gathered and determined that the protest was becoming more volatile.

"They begin very peacefully. But over the past few days we begin to see an escalation in the volatility of the protest at GW," Smith said at a press conference Wednesday.

Smith said last Thursday a George Washington University campus police officer was pushed by protesters, and an item was grabbed out of the officer’s hand.

"On Monday. MPD learned of more indicators that the protest was becoming more volatile and less stable," Smith continued. "This included a simple assault reported to GW police, security probing of a GW building, indicators that counter demonstrators were covertly in the encampment, and information that protesters from other schools were traveling to GW."

Smith said she and Bowser also identified that items were being gathered that could potentially be used for offensive and defensive weapons.

"All of this led to my discussion and conclusion that we needed to change our posture," Smith said. "I briefed Mayor Bowser on Monday and we began preparing for last night."

Smith said 33 people were arrested Wednesday morning as officers cleared the encampment.