Chicago police officers were seen on Thursday morning taking down an anti-Israel encampment that had persisted for more than two weeks at DePaul University. 

Officers in riot gear were seen on the North Side campus just before 6 a.m. to clear the encampment on DePaul University’s Lincoln Park quad, WLS reported. 

The encampment began on April 30. 

In a letter on Thursday morning, DePaul President Robert L. Manuel said “our Office of Public Safety and Chicago Police are now disassembling the encampment. Every person currently in the encampment will be given the opportunity to leave peacefully and without being arrested. I urge all there to leave peacefully and return home.” 

Manuel said the university is “aware of a death threat against a student and reports of individuals threatening to slit the throats of people they perceive to be Jewish or in support of the Israeli State,” as well as that “there was a bounty put out to identify certain members of the encampment.” 

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“It is clear the encampment is now attracting outside threats to both those inside of it, and those around it,” he wrote. “We had no choice but to act, before we lost the ability to provide for the safety of the Jewish members of our community, to protect those in the encampment, to preserve the rights of all other students, and to maintain university operations.” 

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Crowd at DePaul anti-Israel encampment

“Since the encampment began on April 30, the situation has steadily escalated with physical altercations, credible threats of violence from people not associated with our community, an inability for the other members of our community to take part in the core academic experiences on our campus, and an ever-growing series of threats to the people involved in the encampment and our community members,” Manuel said. “From the beginning of the encampment, I have said that we would protect free speech and the ability to dissent until it either prevented us from carrying out the operations of our university or threatened the safety of the members of our community. I am deeply saddened to say the encampment has crossed that line.” 

Manuel said university negotiators were unable to reach a shared resolution with the DePaul Divestment Coalition after 17 days of discussions. 

DePaul green spaces were closed

“Effective immediately, the quad and all other green spaces on the Lincoln Park Campus will be closed to everyone,” the university president said. “These spaces will remain closed until further notice so that we can begin property repairs and return to normal operations. Anyone who tries to breach the fence around the quad or any of the green spaces on the Lincoln Park Campus will be trespassed, arrested, and suspended. DePaul will continue to investigate every reported complaint of harassment or discrimination that we receive resulting from the encampment or subsequent events.”   

Manuel estimated that occupants of the encampment appeared to have caused nearly $180,000 in physical damage to the quad after vandalizing buildings and other structures with graffiti and making etchings on windows. The university president also cited instances of fireworks being lobbed into the encampment from Fullerton Avenue and “credible threats against the encampment from phone numbers that when traced appear to be connected to anarchists and hate groups.” Individuals from the encampment “have started to place locks on the buildings adjacent to the quad and barricaded key entrance and exit points,” he said. 

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