House Hearing on GWU Protest Canceled After Police Clear Encampment and Arrest Over 30

A planned House Oversight Committee hearing on the response to a pro-Palestinian encampment at George Washington University (GWU) was canceled after law enforcement cleared out the encampment and made over 30 arrests.

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, led the operation, which saw the removal of the encampment on GWU’s campus and the arrest of 30 protesters, along with three others involved in a separate altercation, according to Metro Police Chief Pamela A. Smith.

The timing of the police action coincided with the scheduled testimony of Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chief Smith at the House Oversight Committee. Chair James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, credited the potential hearing for prompting swift action by city officials.

The encampment at GWU was one of several unauthorized protests on US campuses in support of Palestine. Since mid-April, more than 2,400 individuals have been arrested at similar protests across the country, sparking debates over the right to protest and accusations of antisemitism.

The encampment at GWU’s University Yard had been in place for about two weeks, drawing criticism from university officials for disruption of academic activities and safety concerns. Police cited escalating tensions and potential safety risks as reasons for the clearance.

During the operation, law enforcement deployed pepper spray in response to attempts by protesters to resist arrest. The university, notified in advance of the police action, described it as orderly and safe, with no reports of serious injuries.

Protesters expressed anger over the clearance, viewing the encampment as a peaceful demonstration and a community space. Despite the police action, GWU stated that final exams would proceed as scheduled, with increased police presence on campus.

Similar police actions occurred at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, resulting in dozens of arrests. These incidents reflect a nationwide trend of police intervention in campus protests, amid ongoing debates over public order and free speech.

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