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Wayne State anti-Israel encampment forces classes online as Rep. Rashida Tlaib joins protest

Rep. Tlaib blocks police car as part of protest, video shows

A relatively new anti-Israel encampment at Wayne State University university prompted administrators to move classes online Tuesday, citing safety issues, as demonstrators refuse to leave and Democratic Congresswoman Rep. Rashida Tlaib joined the protest.

A video posted on social media Tuesday evening shows Tlaib among a crowd blocking a police car from entering campus, telling the officer to find another route. “You know you can go around, you know you can go around,” Tlaib, who is Muslim, is seen telling the officer, who backs up the car and drives slowly in reverse, the video shows.

The encampment is about six days old. Protesters reportedly denied a request for a private meeting with administrators, calling for it to be public, as Tlaib bashed university leadership for switching to remote learning, calling it an overreaction on her Instagram account, and demanding officials come negotiate with the activists.

“This is the Wayne State University @waynestate student encampment where they are urging @presidentespy to meet with them about divesting in war manufacturers and support for the genocide in Gaza. Instead of meeting with them, President [Kimberly Andrews] Espy decided to have the whole campus go remote. It is absolutely ridiculous that Espy reacts to student protests like this. Meet with your students,” the congresswoman posted.

Matt Lockwood, a campus spokesman, told the Detroit Free Press the situation is fluid.

“There are some walkways that have been blocked that are around the encampment … the fire marshal has expressed some concerns about combustible materials that have accumulated [and…] there are a small number of occupants that have challenged public safety,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood also told the newspaper there’s about 20 tents and among the estimated 40 protesters, many do not appear to be students. There is no plan to use police force at this time to clear the encampment, he said.

Espy told the campus community the encampment should be dismantled, the student newspaper the South End reported.

“Wayne State University is the most diverse campus in Michigan,” Espy said in an email. “We value diversity and inclusion, and we are responsible for ensuring the campus is welcoming and inclusive for everyone. For some in our community, the encampment has created an environment of exclusion – one where some felt unwelcome and unable to fully participate in campus life. This is another reason why the encampment must be dismantled.”

MORE: UT-Austin lecturer fired after altercation with police at anti-Israel protest 

IMAGE: Instagram screenshot

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.