GWU protest organizers vow to stay on campus until demands are met

For the fifth day, George Washington University students and other protesters are participating in an encampment demonstration over the war in Gaza.

Early Monday morning, GW officials said protesters "breached and dismantled" barriers used to secure GW’s University Yard.

"This group of approximately 200 protesters from across the DMV, including professional organizers, activists, and university students, have joined the unauthorized encampment on our campus," an updated statement from the university said. "This is an egregious violation of community trust and goes far beyond the boundaries of free expression and the right to protest. The university will use every avenue available to ensure those involved are held accountable for their actions."

One of the organizers of the protest is a sophomore at GW, who asked FOX 5 to only refer to her as "Miriam."

"We had so much community support. It’s absolutely outstanding how the community has shown up and shown out for us," she said. "Gaza is our reason. Gaza is our compass. They’re the reason we’re doing this. Everything is for them."

Miriam said the demands include the protection of pro-Palestinian students’ speech on campus and dropping charges against students, immediate disclosure of all investments and endowments of the university, and divestment of all funds related to Israel and academic partnerships.

When asked what "charges" she was speaking of, Miriam told FOX 5 she was referring to sanctions and disciplinary action. She claims "several students" have been suspended because of their participation in the encampment protest. 


When FOX 5 asked the university Monday whether her claim was accurate, a GW spokesperson told us the university does not comment on individual students due to federal privacy laws.

A follow-up email from FOX 5 on the matter has not been returned as of this writing.

"We’re going to be here until our demands are met. It doesn’t matter what they say, what they do. We’re staying," Miriam said. "We’re not going anywhere. We’re here to support each other and keep each other safe. We’re going to be here as long as we need to."

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Another student supporting the protest said she heard about it Thursday, the first day of the encampment.

"It was kind of hard not to hear about it. It was all anyone was talking about. It was all over social media. I just heard about it when I woke up Thursday morning," she said. "I kind of was saying that it was inevitable. I was waiting for GW to get involved in this. I’m really glad they did. I’m proud of everyone who put things together."

GW also addressed false reports of an attempted arrest.

"We are aware of false reports of an attempted arrest. A GW student jumped over the barricade into University Yard and was being escorted out by GWPD when the breach occurred. No arrest was made," a statement Monday read. "We remain committed to implementing the safest resolution possible and have arranged for additional security resources to respond appropriately to this escalation."

On campus, MPD officers are monitoring the protest. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said all decisions on public safety are made by the police department and police chief.

"We are Washington, D.C. We are, by design, where people come to address the government and their grievances in the government. Over the years, we have developed strategies and expertise in policing First Amendment policies. It’s almost never perfect, but I rely on MPD and their experience and expertise in doing that," Mayor Bowser said. "We will not tolerate violence of any kind. We will be supportive of universities and other private entities who need help."

Monday marked the last day of classes for the spring semester. Miriam said there were no plans to leave the encampment site.

"What’s going on is much bigger and much more powerful than any grade or any diploma that any of us could get. Yes, it is causing disruptions to classes, to finals, but what we’re doing here is we’re planting the seeds for revolutionary change. We’re here for liberation in Palestine, and that’s also connected to liberation for all people," she said.

GW said the university is open and operating with "enhanced safety measures."