Pro-Palestinian protesters removed after occupying key UW building

Dec 8, 2023, 8:22 AM | Updated: 8:23 am

UW Palestine encampment...

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protested at the University of Washington's Gerberding Hall in Seattle Thursday night. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators were physically removed from the University of Washington’s Gerberding Hall in Seattle Thursday night.

They were staging a sit-in outside of the office of President Ana Mari Cauce, demanding the school break financial ties with Israel and Boeing. They also want the university to stop what they call the repression of pro Palestinian students and university staff.

Around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, a group of pro-Palestine protesters who had been marching around campus since 11 a.m. entered Gerberding Hall, the university’s administration building around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, university spokesperson Victor Balta said in a statement. Balta added officials and police took steps to ensure the safety of personnel in the building.

“While such protests are not a frequent occurrence, it is also not unprecedented for protesters to come into the administration building,” he said.

In all, 36 protesters removed from the building and processed for investigation of criminal trespassing, the statement said.

“University officers provided opportunities for each protester to voluntarily walk out of the building, which some did. Others resisted to varying degrees and were escorted out of the building by police,” Balta explained. “At times, protesters outside the building blocked the exits. Seattle police assisted in escorting several protesters out of the building and keeping doorways clear to allow officers to bring protesters out of the building.”

Student organizer Mathieu Chabaud believes a large amount of university money ends up being allocated to items that exploit Palestinians.

“A lot of this university’s funding is either coming from or is spent on things that oppress the Palestinian people such as such as receiving millions of dollars in funding from Boeing.”

International news: Palestinians crowd into ever-shrinking areas in Gaza as Israel’s war against Hamas enters third month

The protesters entered the administration building, even hanging a Palestinian flag from it. Initially, they refused to leave until Cauce met with them.

Chabaud says ultimately, they have a larger goal in mind.

“We do believe this will provoke action on a national scale,” Chabaud said.

During the removal process, protesters claim university police were too forceful with them.

“Just grabbing them. Dragging them with physical force and shoving them outside of the various entrances,” Alon Lapid with Super UW said, according to KIRO 7.

The university has been the site of numerous pro-Palestinian rallies since the start of the Israel-Hamas war two months ago.

Previous demonstration: Protesters clash at UW in Seattle over Mideast conflict

Protest not linked to nearby menorah lighting

As the protest unfolded Thursday night, a menorah-lighting ceremony took place at Red Square to mark the beginning of the Jewish festival Hanukkah. The event went forward peacefully and undisturbed. It was not related to the nearby protest, Balta said in his statement.

“Which is that light will always outshine darkness. Love will always out power hate,” Rabbi Mendel Weingarten, co-director of Chabad of UW said, according to KIRO 7.

Weingarten says ever since the conflict in Israel began, there has been a lot of antisemitism around campus that has had a big impact on students.

“Especially when they wake up in the morning and there are calls of hate and destruction all throughout campus,” he said.

And while tensions remain high during the ongoing conflict, many are hoping peace comes soon.

“Without peace, we don’t have anything. Peace is what we all strive to have in this world,” Weingarten added.

Kate Stone is a reporter at KIRO Newsradio. Lisa Brooks is an anchor and editor at KIRO Newsradio. Steve Coogan is the lead editor at MyNorthwest.

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Pro-Palestinian protesters removed after occupying key UW building