Protests at Northern Arizona University continue despite arrests


Less than 24 hours after police violently cleared a pro-Palestinian camp at Northern Arizona University and arrested about two dozen people, a group of students gathered again on campus Wednesday evening in protest.

More than 100 students stood on the lawn in front of the student union in silent solidarity with the now-suspended campus chapter, Students for Justice in Palestine.

Despite the suspension, the group intends to continue its protests until its demands — which include disclosing the school's lobbying activities, cutting all ties with Israel and abolishing police on campus — are met by the administration.

And even if they can't officially protest on campus, the group is confident their presence will still be felt.

“The students will continue the movement,” said SJP leader Hadi Hassani.

Following Tuesday night's unrest, the university released a statement announcing the club's suspension for violating NAU policy, as well as a new 5 p.m. curfew for all expressive activities and the ban on all temporary structures on campus, including tents, shade structures, and fences, announced. The curfew change comes just a day after the school issued a temporary 10 p.m. curfew for the group's protest and encampment.

But nearly two hours after the new curfew expired, the line of protesters remained standing, with no interference from police or campus officials trying to break up the demonstration.

The university also said police did not use tear gas, chemical irritants or Tasers Tuesday night, contradicting some reports from protesters who were at the front lines of the encampment when police moved in to surround the area around 10:30 p.m to clear

“It couldn’t have been that big of a deal, but they made it a big deal — the response they gave,” Hassani said.

“They showed up in riot gear and everything like it was a war zone,” he said.

And even though he was arrested and spent a sleepless night in a crowded cell at the Coconino County Jail, group member and NAU junior James Witzeman said it was all worth it.

“It radicalized me even further,” Witzeman said after his release from prison Wednesday afternoon. “I would do it again,” he said.

Junior Natanael Damian, vice president of the group, agreed.

“Arrests don’t deter me, police operations don’t deter me,” Damian said. “I’ve learned from history that when you’re on the right side of history, that’s exactly what those in power do.”

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Anna Harden

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