/ Modified may 10, 2024 9:37 a.m.

Police use tear gas to break up pro-Palestinian protest at UA

Riot gear clad officers broke up the encampment just after midnight.

Pro-Palestine Protestors 5-9 Pro-Palestine protestors stand off with law enforcement on Park and University, Thursday, May 9. Law enforcement used chemical agents to disband the protestors.
Katya Mendoza, AZPM News

This story was updated to indicate the number of arrests.

Law enforcement officers in helmets, gas masks, batons, and shields moved into an area on the edge of the University of Arizona campus known as the Olive Grove just after midnight to break up an encampment set up by pro-Palestinian protestors.

The protestors set up the encampment after marching from a nearby park early in the evening. The encampment was set up at the same spot on campus where protestors clashed with police last week.

Protestors had fortified the encampment with a wall made of what appeared to be wooden pallets and sheets of plywood. They also used plastic barricades from campus to try to make it more difficult for law enforcement officers to storm the area.

A group of UA faculty members and others also stood at the edge of the encampment with signs that said Keep our Students Safe. They also chanted at law enforcement officers to go away before the officers moved in.

Keeping Students Safe VIEW LARGER Keeping Students Safe, a faculty-led organization watched over Pro-Palestine student protestors, as law enforcement marched towards their encampment on Thursday, May 9, on the University of Arizona campus.
Katya Mendoza, AZPM News

As they did last week, university officials and officers warned the protestors multiple times that if they stayed after 10:30 p.m. they would be in violation of a curfew for non-academic related events.

The university began issuing alerts via text and email to the campus community close to midnight warning people to leave the area and about the use of chemical irritants.

Moments before law enforcement advanced, the university issued a statement saying that warnings had been ignored.

"University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins has initiated a zero-tolerance approach to enforcing its campus use policy to protect the campus, students, faculty, visitors, and university events. This evening police vehicles have been spiked, and rocks and water bottles have been thrown at officers and university staff. Those who have violated the law are subject to arrest and prosecution. University officials have taken action to ensure the safety of Centennial Hall convocation attendees," the statement said.

When officers moved to break up the encampment many of the protestors were seen hopping a bordering stone wall and moving onto Park Avenue where hundreds of others had gathered.

Offices used tear gas and pepper balls to break that crowd up. Much of the crowd moved west on University Boulevard where they collided with graduation revelers who had spilled out of local bars. Some in the mixed crowd overturned and broke planters along University Blvd.

The university sent out an alert shortly before 1:00 a.m. declaring "all clear."

On Friday morning, the university confirmed two people were arrested. They said both were affiliated with UA but gave no other details.

Christopher Conover contributed to this report.

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