DU pro-Palestine group clears camp, leaving behind burnt grass spots

DENVER (KDVR) — As of Wednesday morning, pro-Palestine protesters on the University of Denver campus had cleared their encampment.

According to the school’s administration, the students decided to remove their camp, which had been on the campus for about 20 days. The school cited a lengthy dialogue with the group on safety and peace on campus. The only signs of the encampment are areas where the grass was damaged by lack of sun — much the same as where a similar encampment at the Auraria Campus once was.

Students claim assaults, antisemitism present on University of Denver campus

The school administration reported that they sat down with representatives of the protesting group to talk about the school’s “ongoing concerns about their and the wider community’s safety, as well as our call for the encampment’s immediate removal.”

“We shared that the University would not meet their demands for practical and policy-guided reasons. The protesters, in turn, shared the deep dedication and passion for the cause that brought them together in the first place,” the DU administration said in a release.

This area is where pro-Palestine protesters camped on the University of Denver's campus for about 20 days.

This area is where pro-Palestine protesters camped on the University of Denver’s campus for about 20 days.

In a letter posted to Instagram, the DU for Palestine student group said they believe the “fight is not over” and called DU’s board of trustees, chancellor and administration “cowards who continue to support genocide.”

“We are disgusted by the actions of our administration as they continue to fall short of any sort of ethical compass,” the group wrote. “Over the past 20 days, the University of Denver has shown they would rather use subtle force, police intimidation tactics, and repression than listen to their students and a global movement calling for divestment from the terrorist and illegal state of Israel. DU has also shown their blatant disregard for the lives and experiences of Palestinian students and have consistently prioritized the comfort of Zionist students.

“Protest is not here to make you comfortable, it is here to bring about change when great injustices are occurring like we are seeing in Palestine,” the group wrote.

DU Chancellor Jeremy Haefner used his letter to the DU community to call for individuals to “assume the positive intent of our community members and work together for the greater good.”

“As we move forward, I encourage all students, faculty and staff to engage in meaningful and respectful discussions. Together, we can impact positive change while maintaining a constructive and safe environment,” Haefner wrote. “Let us recommit to fostering an atmosphere of thoughtful dialogue and intellectual humility – one that upholds our values and commits to the safety and belonging of our entire campus community.”

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The Auraria Campus reported that the now-shuttered encampment on their grounds cost the campus an estimated $290,000 in damages, canceled events and other related costs. DU did not have an estimate for how much the grass replacement would be for where the camp had been, as the grounds crews were still evaluating whether the grass could be revived or if the area would need to be re-sodded.

Non-protesting students said protesters assaulted them

The camp’s removal comes after some non-protesting students said the encampment was growing “rowdier,” and others said they were assaulted by protesters.

“I was just walking around with an Israeli flag, you know; I wasn’t saying anything hateful toward the camp at all,” DU freshman Jack Burkman told FOX31’s Rachel Saurer. “And then I just got shoved really hard.”

Some students said they have seen instances of antisemitism increase.

“I had friends who were called slurs directed at Jewish people,” Burkman told Saurer.

Auraria Campus says it will likely have to replace grass after encampment

On Monday, a fence was placed around the encampment. The university said the fence was to protect the protesters, not the non-protesting Jewish students on campus who say they’ve been the target of the protesters.

Previously, pro-Palestine protesters said that DU administrators have prioritized “the voices of the Zionist sect of Judaism on campus while restricting staff support to the Jewish students who are currently at the greatest risk.”

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