Students demanded ‘divestment from companies that facilitate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories’
Forty-one Brown University students were arrested and booked by police for occupying a campus building to demand the university divest from Israel and call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The students are part of the Brown Divest Coalition, whose spokesperson Carla Humphris told The Brown Daily Herald the trespassing students were booked inside the hall on Monday after an occupation of several hours, the paper reported that day.
Students participating in the sit-in were “photographed, fingerprinted and provided their arrest paperwork” Monday evening by the Providence, R.I., Police Department and the Brown Department of Public Safety “in lieu of being detained in physical custody,” Brown Spokesperson Brian Clark wrote in a statement to The Daily Herald.
Brown had warned the students repeatedly that “they would not be allowed to remain in the building after normal operating hours for security reasons, and that they could face disciplinary action for violating policies, as well as arrest,” Clark said.
“The disruption to secure buildings is not acceptable, and the University is prepared to escalate the level of criminal charges for future incidents of students occupying secure buildings,” according to Clark.
Students with @DivestBrown currently occupying the Brown Corporation Room demanding Brown divest from companies profiting from Gaza genocide. They act in solidarity with classmate Hisham Awartani, paralyzed from chest down after being shot alongside two other Palestinian students pic.twitter.com/Gq4YBsOhwQ
— Daniel Denvir (@DanielDenvir) December 11, 2023
A crowd of about 400 people had gathered to support the protesters during the occupation and following their release, The Daily Herald reported. The crowd chanted in Arabic and shouted, “shame on Brown, shame on Brown,” as the arrested students were released.
BDC had declared they would occupy the building until university President Christina Paxson expressed support for a 2020 report by the university’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies.
The report “recommend[ed] divestment from companies that facilitate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories,” according to the first page of the document.
Paxson responded in a letter to protesters that she “will not commit now to forward or recommend” the report, according to The Daily Herald.
In a letter dated March 9, 2021, Paxson wrote that the ACCRIP recommendation “did not adequately address the requirements for rigorous analysis and research” or exhibit “the requisite level of specificity in regard to divestment.”
Even more, “the divestment recommendation did not meet established standards for identifying specific entities for divestment or the articulation for how financial divestment from the entities would address social harm as defined in the committee’s charge,” Paxson wrote.
National Review reported Tuesday that “in early November, nearly two dozen members of BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now conducted a sit-in at the same location, leading to their arrests.”
“The university eventually asked the Providence city solicitor’s office to drop the charges on the heels of Brown student Hisham Awartani being among three Palestinians shot in Burlington, Vermont, later that month,” according to National Review.
Over the past several weeks, students have staged sit-ins in response to the Israel-Hamas war at multiple campuses across the country, including at Ivy League institutions, The College Fix has reported. In November, Harvard student political organizers affiliated with a pro-Palestinian group occupied the campus’ University Hall for more than 24 hours, demanding the university call for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire.
Eight students face university-enforced consequences for the occupation, The Fix reported on Nov. 22.