34 arrested Thursday following afternoon of protests in Dunn Meadow

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (IUSTV News) — 34 people, including some Indiana University faculty and students, were hauled off in zip-ties and handcuffs Thursday afternoon as Indiana State Police and IU Police worked to clear tents during a protest in Dunn Meadow over the war in Gaza.

The protests began around noon as hundreds set up camp on the lawns of campus, planting flags, tents, and tables. Police presence started to increase as the afternoon progressed with IUPD and BPD assessing the situation.

“You guys can be here, we just can’t have the tents here,” an Indiana State Trooper told some of the protesters. “You guys can stay here, you guys can legally protest, that’s not a problem, but we can’t have the tents that’s against the policy.”

“What policy?” several people shouted.

“I’m not arguing, I’m just telling you this: if those tents don’t come down, the state police, not IUPD, is going to come in here and clear everyone out. Once that happens, we’re going to push you this way. If you resist us, or stay, you’ll be arrested.”

In a statement Thursday evening the IU Police Department said that, “University officials provided verbal and written expectations to the group regarding their actions numerous times throughout the morning and afternoon. The group was also told multiple times that if they removed their structures, they would be allowed to stay in Dunn Meadow. Following their refusal to comply with university policy, the group was advised to leave the area.”

The IU policy that administrators and police cited, which went into effect yesterday according to the Office of Student Life, says that:

“The temporary or permanent installation of structures (including, but not limited to, signage, tents, etc.) at any time must be approved in advance, by the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Life in conjunction with University Events, and if approved, must adhere to guidelines provided by the University. The Office of the Vice Provost for Student Life, in conjunction with University Events, may approve overnight use of University property for camping in connection with approved University events or registered University organizations.

Such use must be consistent with the University’s mission and will not be detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of event participants or the campus community or in violation of any federal, state, or local laws or municipal ordinances.

In extraordinary circumstances, such as times of natural disaster, camping may be permitted when approved in advance by the President of the University or their designee.”

IU policy against temporary or permanent structures not approved, as listed on the Office of Student Life’s website.

Later in the afternoon, an IU police officer used a bullhorn several times to make an announcement that protesters need to clear the tents or face the risk of being arrested for trespassing.

An officer with the IU Police Department gives a public announcement to the protesters, saying police have authority to clear the tents. Those who resist face risk of arrest.

Some of the tents came down following at least three warnings from police, however, several tents remained up as protesters formed a human-chain around what tents remained.

According to IUPD, at 3:46 p.m., a SWAT team with the Indiana State Police arrived to campus, equipped with tactical gear carrying shields, batons, and helmets. Some of the officers were also armed with tear gas.

The SWAT team made a line across Dunn Meadow and began walking towards the encampment. IU Police officers were standing behind the frontlines, carrying dozens of zip-tie handcuffs in each hand.

Police made one final warning, giving five minutes to those demonstrating to clear the tents or leave from Dunn Meadow. The protestors continued to shout.

“Once we start moving, we are going to start the arrests,” a trooper said over a megaphone before officers approached with shields to push against the chain of protesters and work closer to the tents.

Protester after protester, police pulled dozens from the chain of protesters, placing many in handcuffs.

A protester is dragged away by police after being detained

Some of those being detained ran from police. One protester was seen sprinting east out of Dunn Meadow towards the Indiana Memorial Union. IU Police officers were able to catch up to the person before tackling them near the intersection of 7th Street and Woodlawn Avenue.

A protester sprints from police as an officer chases him out of Dunn Meadow and the person was arrested nearby (photo below)
The protester is tackled near the gates to the Indiana Memorial Union after running from police

The arrests continued to pile up as detained protesters were collected and sat in an area away from the tents. An early count by our reporters on scene showed that roughly 30 people were detained by police. IUPD later confirmed that 34 people in total were arrested.

Two protesters are seating with hands restrained as police worked to clear the tents.

After all tents were removed from Dunn Meadow, ISP SWAT and IUPD walked backwards, before leaving the area as protesters returned to chanting and cheering.

The arrested protesters were walked up the steps of the field and put on an IU bus that was parked and waiting on 7th Street, before pulling away from the area.

An Indiana State Police helicopter circled the skies around campus in the moments following the arrests.

An IU spokesperson issued the following statement Thursday evening:

Indiana University Bloomington is a campus where we encourage and respect free speech and open dialogue. To ensure the safety and security of the IU community and to avoid disruption of university operations, expressive activity must be conducted in accordance with university free speech and events policies. This includes the enforcement of policies that require advanced approval for the installation of temporary structures. 

IU spokesperson

The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition also issued a statement on Thursday’s situation, saying “Inviting Indiana State Police on the Indiana University campus to attack a peaceful protest is a violation of the most basic principles of academic freedom. This is not merely an instance of policy misstep but a glaring revelation of systemic rot—an administration forsaken by trust, ousted by its faculty, and now, a perpetrator of aggression against its own students.”

IGWC said in the press release that some IGWC members were among those arrested.

“We are disappointed by every single IU administrator who failed to prevent this police violence and brutality upon students they are charged with mentoring and protecting,” IGWC said.

Thursday’s clash between police and protesters comes just one week after the IU Bloomington faculty passed votes of no confidence for IU President Pamela Whitten, Provost Rahul Shrivastav and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Carrie Docherty during a special meeting.