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Wayne State University police dismantle encampment; 12 arrested

Wayne State Police cleared a week-old encampment early Thursday morning. Protestors moved to a nearby street. (Bridge photo by Janelle D. James)
  • Wayne State University dismantled a week-old encampment erected to protest the Israel-Hamas war
  • University police arrested 12 people
  • Students have moved their protest to a nearby street

Wayne State University police officers moved in early Thursday and dismantled an encampment set up by protestors opposed to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. 

    University spokesperson Matt Lockwood told Bridge Michigan that Wayne State Police made a total of 12 arrests. 

    By mid-morning Thursday the camp had been cleared and the site blocked off with caution tape, but students moved their protest to a street nearby, outside the university’s STEM Innovation Learning Center. The protesters, made up of students, faculty and alumni, were heard chanting slogans such as “Free, Free Palestine.” 


    “We need your energy, we need your vision, we need your guidance because clearly the people in charge do not know what … they are doing,” Jessica Moorman, an assistant professor of communication at WSU, told students in the crowd. 

    “This is a public institution. You have the right to ask ‘Where is my money? How is it being spent?’,” Moorman said. “The faculty sees you. We are here, we support you,” she said. “Please know you are not alone.”  

    By noon Thursday, the group had dispersed, though several police cars and campus security guards remained stationed in the area. 

    Protesters set up their encampment one week ago, erecting roughly 30 tents outside of State Hall. 

    “Since the encampment was established on May 23, it presented legal, health and safety, and operational challenges for our community,” President WSU President Kimberly Andrews Espy said in a letter to the community

    Espy said university leadership had “repeatedly engaged with occupants of the encampment,” and communicated that the protestors were trespassing. 

    “No individual or group is permitted to claim campus property for their own use and deny others access to that property.”

    The university announced it was switching to remote operations Tuesday. Espy said in her Thursday announcement that Thursday would remain remote and she would announce later Thursday what Friday’s operations will be. 

    The encampment as it appeared Tuesday. Caution tape is all that remained after police moved in. (Bridge photo by Janelle D. James)

    The encampment on the Detroit campus was formed two days after the University of Michigan removed an encampment on its Ann Arbor campus nearly a month after it was erected. Police arrested four people at that encampment. Protestors repeatedly called on the university to “divest” any funds that they say are helping support the war.

    People gathered on the university’s Diag Thursday afternoon to eat lunch and do remote work as part of an effort to “take back the Diag,” according to a social media post

    A leader of the Wayne State protest told Bridge on Tuesday that WSU students set up the camp in solidarity with the U-M encampment and similar ones across the country.

    Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:37 p.m. May 30, 2024 to correct the number of arrests WSU police made while dismantling the encampment. 

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