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Police officers disband the encampment on the morning of May 10.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Read all of our coverage of the Gaza Solidarity Encampment and protesters’ demands here.

Interim Penn President Larry Jameson defended the sweep of the Gaza Solidarity Encampment Friday morning and restricted the College Green area until further notice.

In an email to the University community — which was sent shortly after 9 a.m. from Jameson, Provost John Jackson Jr., and Senior Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli — administrators explained that they acted after the campus had been “under threat” for too long a period of time. 

“This is an unfortunate but necessary step to prevent violence, restore operations, and return our campus to our community,” Jameson wrote. 

Penn and Philadelphia Police officers in riot gear arrested 33 individuals at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment at around 6 a.m. on Friday. The individuals did not resist arrest and were cited for defiant trespass. 

"We could not allow students to be prevented from accessing study spaces and resources, attending final exams, or participating in Commencement ceremonies, which for many did not happen during the pandemic," Jameson wrote.

The arrests and clearing of tents took place on the 16th day of the encampment, which began on the afternoon of April 25. Up to 40 tents took up one square of College Green until Tuesday, when at least eight tents were moved over as the encampment expanded east of the Ben Franklin statue. The encampment is now entirely dismantled, with tents, Palestinian flags, and poles having been placed into a garbage truck and shredded.

He also wrote to express “gratitude” to both the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Police Department.

Access to College Green will remain “restricted” and will require PennCard access for entry. Jameson warned that those who do not have ID will “be asked to leave” or escorted off campus. 

“There are times when our abiding commitment to open expression requires balancing free speech with our responsibility to safety, security, and continuing the operations of the University,” Jameson wrote. “Open expression and peaceful protest are welcome on our campus, but vandalism, trespassing, disruption, and threatening language and actions are not.”

Jameson acknowledged attempts at dialogue but said that the University could “could not allow further disruption of our academic mission.”

He added that divestment from Israeli entities would be “unlawful” given that Penn receives funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

“We proposed, and still hope to deploy, Penn’s academic resources to support rebuilding and scholarly programs in Gaza, Israel, and other areas of the Middle East,” Jameson added.