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Pro-Palestinian students set up ‘liberation zone’ encampment in Harvard Yard

Tents erected after university made area off limits, banned ‘unauthorized structures’

Pro-Palestinian students set up an anti-Israel encampment Wednesday in Harvard Yard despite the university issuing restrictions for the area all this week.

At one point, as many as 500 people participated in the protest, demanding “divestment” from Israel and urging the university to reverse its decision to suspend the Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee, The Harvard Crimson reports. Many similar demonstrations have taken place on campuses across the country in the past week.

“We call on you to share our anger as a starting part to continue and constant mobilization,” one organizer told the crowd. “Now more than ever, when Harvard most wants for us to be silent, we have a duty to speak out louder than ever. Free, free Palestine.”

Afterward, students began setting up tents and sleeping bags on the lawn despite signs warning of disciplinary measures if they “bring in unauthorized structures such as tents or tables or block access to building entrances,” according to The Crimson.

A video on the Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee’s Instagram account shows students cheering loudly and beating drums as others rush to erect tents and place sleeping bags on the lawn.

According to The Crimson:

In a Monday interview, interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 declined to rule out using police in response to student protests, but said there would be a “very, very high bar” before their involvement. University officials have remained firmly in opposition to calls to boycott Israel.

The tents were set up as Harvard University Police Department officers watched, but they have not intervened thus far.

One protester told the student newspaper they “smuggl[ed]” the equipment into Harvard Yard and kept it in freshman dorms overnight.

The Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, a coalition of students “fighting for divestment and a FreePalestine,” described the encampment as a “liberation zone for Gaza” in an Instagram post.

“The coalition won’t stop until it achieves disclosure and divestment,” the post states.

The Crimson report continues:

According to a PSC organizer at the encampment, the pro-Palestine protesters are split into four different levels of risk involvement, with some — the “red team” willing to be arrested.

Another group, the “pink team,” is expecting to face disciplinary action from the Harvard College Administrative Board, the organizer said. A “yellow team” is in charge of coordinating virtually with the protesters and providing supplies, while the “green team” are volunteers taking on little to no risk of being arrested or facing College disciplinary action.

A “Daily Events Schedule” for the “Harvard Liberated Zone” on PSC’s Instagram account lists an “art build for tent decoration” and a “mental health break.”

Earlier this week, the university closed Harvard Yard and set up signs and security measures around the gates, The Boston Globe reports. All but five of the gates were closed, and security officers stationed at the open gates allowed admittance only to those with Harvard IDs, the report states.

“We shifted to [Harvard University ID] access only to stay ahead of potential issues with non-Harvard recognized groups,” the university told The Globe in a statement.

Similar protests at other universities have prompted even stricter measures.

Earlier this week, Columbia University announced the remainder of the semester would be remote due to virulent anti-Israel protests.

Police in riot gear also arrested Yale University students after a Jewish student journalist reported being stabbed in the eye, The College Fix reported.

MORE: Police in riot gear arrest NYU students, faculty who won’t leave anti-Israel encampment

IMAGE: Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee/Instagram

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.