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Credit: Ethan Young

This story is developing and will continue to be updated. Read more live updates from the Gaza Solidarity Encampment here.

Penn asked the Philadelphia Police Department for immediate help to disband the Gaza Solidarity Encampment, a source familiar told The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

However, PPD declined, asking that the University provide proof that the encampment — and the rally today, which is entering its fourth hour — presents an imminent danger. News of the request for help came as Penn Public Safety issued its fourth UPenn Alert — the first alerts since the encampment started eight days ago.

In a statement, a University spokesperson said that Penn has contacted the City of Philadelphia amid the ongoing Gaza Solidarity Encampment and related demonstrations.

“The University has been managing an encampment and surrounding protests on our campus for several days,” the spokesperson wrote. “Protest activity began to escalate overnight and has steadily continued, with large crowds in and around College Green today. We have reached out to the City of Philadelphia to ensure we have the necessary resources to keep our community safe.”

"The Mayor's Office has asked for more information, and we are providing it," the spokesperson separately wrote to the DP.

In a statement to the DP, the PPD's public information officer wrote that — while they cannot publicly discuss specific planning or engagement strategies related to ongoing situations for "tactical purposes" — they have an agreement with Penn Police in which the PPD provides support "as needed."

“The PPD remains committed to facilitating safe demonstrations while ensuring the safety and upholding the First Amendment rights of all who live, work or visit our city,” PPD Public Information Officer Eric Gripp wrote. “Our response will be based on the specific circumstances of each situation.”

The UPenn Alert came hours after more than 20 police officers, some of whom held zip tie handcuffs, assembled along the front barricades surrounding the encampment. One barricade separated the statue from Locust Walk, where a large crowd of onlookers had assembled.

Protesters sang “we shall not be moved” from the Ben Franklin statue in front of College Hall. Some stood on the statue while others sung around them with drums and signs.

Earlier, police physically confronted protestors after an encampment organizer hopped over barricades surrounding the Ben Franklin statue. The individual, holding a Palestinian flag, refused to come down after Penn Police officers asked him to leave.

A protester standing on the base of the statue was also forcibly removed by Penn Police officers, resulting in a physical clash between organizers and police officers.

Organizers knocked down all the barricades surrounding the statue and rushed the statue, linking arms around the base. Police fell back after the interaction.

Police presence originally increased late this morning on campus as dueling demonstrations of the Gaza Solidarity Encampment and counterprotestors met on Locust Walk. Hey Day, a tradition for juniors entering their senior year, was held steps away at the Annenberg Plaza.

Police formed a barrier of barricades and bikes between the two sides, leaving approximately eight feet of space.

Philadelphia Police, including the Counterterrorism Unit, have monitored activity on College Green for the duration of the events. Previously, very few city law enforcement officers had been present at the site of the encampment. The quantity of of Penn Police officers present was also heightened from previous days.