23 arrested during day three of Gaza encampment in Dunn Meadow

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (IUSTV News) — For the second time in three days, Indiana State Police, equipped with riot gear and tear gas, dismantled the IU Divestment Coalition‘s encampment in Dunn Meadow, ending in the arrest of 23 protesters.

After dozens remained in the meadow sleeping in tents overnight, the university issued a warning at 9:15 a.m. Saturday on social media, reiterating that tents or other temporary or permanent structures are not allowed on campus without prior approval—a rule that was changed and enacted Wednesday night prior to the first day of the encampment.

“Consistent with university policy, the installation of temporary structures requires advanced approval and camping is not allowed overnight,” the post read. “These policies are in place to safeguard the IU community.”

By 12:20 p.m., officers with IU Police Department and Indiana State Police arrived in Dunn Meadow. According to IUPD, protesters were given six verbal warnings to tear down the tents before police began approaching the encampment at 12:35 p.m. and detaining individuals who resisted.

“After numerous written and verbal communications that free speech and protest are permissible but the presence of unapproved temporary or permanent structures violates university policy, a group of individuals erected numerous tents and canopies on Friday night with the stated intention to occupy the university space indefinitely,” IUPD said in a press release.

“The Indiana University Police Department continues to support peaceful protests on campus that follow university policy,” the statement concluded.

Much like Thursday, the arrested protesters were loaded on an empty IU bus and later taken to the Monroe County Jail and booked on charges ranging from criminal trespass to resisting law enforcement.

IUPD did not have confirmation on the number of arrestees who are affiliated with IU.

The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition (IGWC), said that IGWC Coordinating Committee member, and IU Divestment Coalition spokesperson, Bryce Greene, has received a five-year ban from campus, the longest from any confirmed trespass warnings so far. Protesters arrested Thursday and other arrested Saturday received only a one-year ban from campus.

IUSTV News reached out to IUPD for clarification as to what was the reason for the discrepancy, but have not received a response.

Several local public officials released statements Saturday reacting to the second wave of arrests on IU’s campus. In a video posted to Facebook Saturday, Bloomington Mayor Kerry Thomson said that supports freedom of speech, but had concerns with some who have an outside agenda, that “are known to be less that peaceful.

Thomson said that Bloomington Police Department has not and will not play a role in clearing the encampment, and that she has given instruction to not get involved with what IU and state police are doing during the protest.

“I’m supportive of the protesters and their freedom to express themselves,” Thomson said. “I’m not supportive of unauthorized encampments, nor of violence.”

In a second video posted on Sunday morning, Thomson issued an apology, saying her initial statement was misleading and may have caused confusion.

“In my message about the protests yesterday, I made a statement about the presence of outside groups,” Thomson said. “We had reports of Proud Boys and other involvement, and I had concern about the possibility of escalation beyond what our students and faculty present on campus were gathered to achieve. This statement, I see now, pointed the finger in the way I had not intended. I am sorry.”

In her first statement, Thomson said she supported non-violent means of protest. She aslo encouraged de-escalation, which in the second statement, Thomson clarified that she was talking about police rather than the protesters.

“I was referring to the State police advance on peaceful protesters when I believe all routes to de-escalation had not been met,” Thomson said. “The purpose of my message yesterday was really intended to stand with the peaceful protesters and be clear that our police department—the Bloomington Police Department—would not be involved in advancing on the protesters.”

Thomson also said that she has talked with students who helped organize the protest. She also said that her administration has remained in communication with the university, but said “I hope that in the future, there will be greater communication and collaboration with our team when Indiana University undertakes actions that affect all of Bloomington, not just campus.”

Indiana State Representative Matt Pierce, (D-Bloomington), also reacted to the arrests Saturday, issuing the following statement:

“Yesterday, the Indiana University administration betrayed more than 50 years of support for free expression on campus by choosing to use force to shut down a peaceful protest and arresting students and faculty exercising their First Amendment rights.

A University policy that has designated Dunn Meadow as a ‘public forum for expression on all subjects’ since 1969 was blatantly violated by the leaders of the University without justification. A policy that has withstood anti-Vietnam War protests, months-long shanty towns to protest apartheid in South Africa, the Gulf War, and numerous other controversies was summarily changed by an unknown committee with no public notice or input.

It’s clear this alleged policy change was directly targeted at a specific protest with speech the University wished to suppress. That is a textbook violation of the First Amendment. 

It’s ironic that University leaders who continually use the excuse of potential violence to suppress speech it opposes invited onto campus state police with military-style weapons that included what appeared to be snipers stationed on rooftops to force a physical confrontation with protesters. This reckless decision is indefensible. Does President Whitten not remember Kent State?

President Whitten must correct this grievous violation of First Amendment rights by requesting all criminal charges against those arrested be dropped and rescinding any year-long bans from campus that have been issued against the protesters.

It’s time for President Whitten to put an end to her amateurish handling of campus protests before someone gets seriously hurt.”

Indiana State Representative Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington

Indiana University did not release a statement following the second wave of arrests.

Despite the encampment being dismantled a second time, and with 57 people arrested over two days, the IU Divestment Coalition doesn’t appear to be detered.

At least 100 people and a few tents were seen in Dunn Meadow Saturday night.

In an Instagram post Sunday morning, the IU Divestment Coalition and Palestinian Solidarity Committee announced day four of the Gaza encampment.

“Our community remains steadfast and we are committed to showing up for the people of Gaza.”

IU faculty are also expected to once again voice their frustrations with the administration, with a protest expected to begin at 10 a.m. April 29 outside Bryan Hall, according to an email sent to the IU faculty from a professor. Faculty are also encouraged to sign a petition demanding the resignation of IU President Pamela Whitten, Provost Rahul Shrivastav and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Carrie Docherty.

“Please bring signs. Let’s defend our students, our university, and our values,” the protest organizer wrote in the email to IU faculty.

Thursday’s and Saturday’s clash between police and protesters comes after the IU Bloomington faculty passed votes of no confidence for Whitten, Shrivastav and Docherty during a special meeting on April 16.