Thirty-three arrests, among them Georgetown students, were made Wednesday morning as the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) cleared the Gaza solidarity encampment at George Washington University (GW)

Demonstrators from eight universities, including GW, Georgetown, and American University, flooded University Yard (U-Yard) the morning of April 25, setting up around two dozen tents. In the following weeks, protestors expanded the encampment to include more than 100 tents spanning U-Yard and the 2000 block of H Street.

The encampment, planned by DMV Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Coalition, protests Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine, where the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel “plausibly violated” the U.N. genocide convention. The protesters’ demands for the eight participating universities include dropping charges against student organizers, divestment from companies with ties to the Israeli military, protection of pro-Palestine activism and speech, and ending academic partnerships with Israel, among others.

The sweep comes just hours before D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD Chief Pamela Smith were scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. The hearing has now been canceled, Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) announced this morning. 

The pair was scheduled to testify regarding their April 26 decision to decline GW’s request to clear the encampment. The Washington Post reported last week that MPD and the mayor’s office were concerned, at the time, about the “optics” of arresting mostly peaceful protesters. 

Since then, “there has been a gradual escalation in the volatility of the protests,” according to a statement from an MPD spokesperson. The spokesperson confirmed to the Voice that the incidents outlined in GW President Ellen Granberg’s Sunday statement—including overrunning the barricades, vandalizing the George Washington statue, and removing the GW flag—contributed to the decision to sweep the camp this morning.

Granberg’s letter also described that the protest has been “co-opted by individuals who are largely unaffiliated with our community,” and argued that so many unvetted people living on university property creates an “increasingly unsafe” environment. Granberg stated that dialogue with the protesters had failed; protesters told the Voice on Monday that Granberg had declined to meet with them and they were unsure what dialogue she was referencing.

Calling on support from MPD, Granberg wrote in that letter, “As a university, we are not equipped to single-handedly manage an unprecedented situation such as this.”

The arrests at GW’s encampment follows reports of police brutality from universities across the country, including Columbia University, University of California Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin, among others. Across the country, more than 2,500 protesters have been arrested on college campuses. GW’s encampment had seen little police intervention until Wednesday morning.

At GW, arrests were made for Assault on a Police Officer, which can be either a misdemeanor or felony charge in D.C., as well as Unlawful Entry.

Photo by Connor Martin

This is a developing story. Follow our live updates:

1:03 p.m. update: All arrested protesters have been released

Following the arrests, protesters, among them Georgetown students, flocked to the DC Metro Training Academy to provide jail support for the 33 people who were arrested.

At 11:54 a.m., Student Coalition for Palestine at GWU posted on Instagram that all the arrested students have been released, and jail support is no longer needed. They also called for protesters to redirect their focus to Gaza and Rafah, a city in the south of the Gaza Strip where 1.3 million Palestinians are sheltering. Early this week, Israeli troops began a land offensive into Rafah and, as of May 6, have gained control over the border crossing there, according to the AP.

Students held a rally at U-Yard at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday to protest the latest escalation in Rafah.

10:39 a.m. update: MPD confirms 33 arrested in press conference

Thirty-three arrests were made this morning for charges including unlawful entry and assault on a police officer, Mayor Bowser and MPD Chief Pamela Smith announced in a press conference at 9 a.m. Georgetown students were among those arrested, according to video footage obtained by the Voice.

MPD cited increasing volatility at the encampment over the last several days, which informed the decision to clear the encampment.

According to Smith, a Monday assessment of the encampment revealed several points of concern, including that protesters from other schools had traveled to GW and that George Washington Police Department (GWPD) had received report of an assault. MPD also saw potential “offensive and defensive weapons.”

“All of this led to my discussion and conclusion that we needed to change our posture,” Smith said in the press conference.

MPD confirmed that demonstrators engaged the police line at 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, where officers pepper sprayed protesters.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, announced on X that he was canceling this afternoon’s hearing where Bowser and Smith were scheduled to speak. Comer wrote in the announcement that with this morning’s arrest, there was no need to hold the hearing which would analyze why MPD did not clear the encampment when it was originally established.

“I am pleased that the potential Oversight hearing led to swift action by Mayor Bowser and MPD Chief Smith,” Comer wrote in a statement.

Chief Smith stated that MPD’s actions were unrelated to the hearing, but were instead in response to the encampment’s changing condition.

Smith stated that there will be no protests in U-Yard while MPD has the area secured.

5:26 a.m. update: MPD arrests more than 20; pepper sprays protesters

More than 20 arrests were made Wednesday morning as the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) cleared the Gaza Solidarity Encampment at George Washington University (GW), according to an MPD spokesperson. 

MPD officers pepper sprayed protesters, as demonstrators tried to move towards the encampment to support those being arrested, multiple protesters told the Voice. Protesters were heard screaming “we need a medic” as several demonstrators were seen vomiting after being sprayed.

Photo by Connor Martin

MPD officers arrived at GW’s University Yard at approximately 3:20 a.m. Officers then gave demonstrators three verbal warnings, a requirement before conducting crowd control measures, with the final warning given at 3:32 a.m, according to the GW Hatchet.

Police barricaded the 2000 block entrance to H Street during the sweep. Demonstrators have retreated to the corner of I Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

This comes hours before Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD Police Chief Pamela Smith are scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability about their decision to not sweep the encampment last week. 

Photo by Connor Martin

Connor Martin
Connor (he/him) is a junior in the college and the managing editor. He is also a member of the editorial board, a collector of snowglobes, and he can't wait to make you pasta after studying for three months in Florence, Italy. Ping Connor at

Eddy Binford-Ross
Eddy Binford-Ross is a sophomore in the SFS and the news editor. She loves talking about the importance of student journalism, swimming in mountain lakes, reading good novels, and, of course, writing for the Voice.

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Sydney is a freshman in the college and a news assistant editor. Likes sushi, boygenius/Olivia Rodrigo/Noah Kahan/Taylor Swift, her 3 dogs, cat, and guinea pig, public transportation and Tennessee sunsets. Dislikes math, whichever team is playing the Buffalo Bills this week, the patriarchy, almost every politician who represents her, and mustard.

Ajani Jones
Ajani is a junior in the college majoring in linguistics. He is the Editor-in-Chief. He is also really, REALLY excited for the Percy Jackson TV show and will not shut up about it (still won't).

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