One arrested at Palestine solidarity protest on KU campus for refusing to vacate tent

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

About a half-dozen people congregate around a shelter house in front of Fraser Hall on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, as part of a Palestine solidarity protest.

One person was arrested on Tuesday by the KU Police Department after allegedly disobeying an order to vacate his tent that was set up as part of a protest against Israel’s military action in Gaza.

A University of Kansas spokeswoman said that KUPD made the arrest because the individual was not complying with a university policy, enacted in February, that generally prohibits tents on the Lawrence campus.

KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said the individual arrested was not a KU student.

KU students, however, have been gathering underneath and around a small, open-air shelter in front of Fraser Hall on the Lawrence campus as part of a Palestine solidarity movement. The event began in earnest on May 1 with about 100 people gathering on the lawn to listen to speakers, hold signs and chant their opposition to the Israeli military actions and U.S. support for Israel.

By Friday, which was the day before final exams began, also known as “stop day” at KU, the protest had largely gone inactive. Activity resumed this week, but crowds have been smaller. At about 10 a.m on Wednesday, about five people were at the site in front of Fraser.

Barcomb-Peterson said KU staff members have been to the site often, but she said the protests have largely followed university policies.

“KU Student Affairs has engaged repeatedly with protesters over the last several days about KU’s policies,” Barcomb-Peterson said via email. “Much of the protest activity has been congruent with our policies and the protection of free speech.”

Barcomb-Peterson said members of the protest event had been told by Student Affairs staff members that KU intended to enforce its policy that generally does not allow tents to be pitched on campus grounds.

“The group was notified that if they did not remove tents voluntarily, KU Police Department would lead in facilitating the tents’ removal,” Barcomb-Peterson said via email. “One group member, who is not a KU student, refused to leave their tent and was taken into custody without incident.”

The Douglas County Jail booking log shows that a 40-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, man was arrested Tuesday afternoon on Jayhawk Boulevard on suspicion of misdemeanor interference with a law enforcement officer.


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