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Police at UNC Chapel Hill detain at least 30 anti-Israel protesters, crowds try to force into buildings

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill confirmed approximately 30 anti-Israel demonstrators were detained Tuesday morning for refusing to leave an encampment protest set up on campus. 

At 5:30 a.m., UNC Chapel Hill administrators shared a statement from Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts and Provost Chris Clemens advising protesters to leave the area and remove tents, tables or other items by 6 a.m. or they may face arrest and other consequences, including suspension from campus and, “ultimately, expulsion from the university, which may prevent students from graduating.”

At 6 a.m., UNC Police “calmly approached the group and detained approximately 30 people who refused to leave. During that time, the protesters attempted to block the UNC Police vehicles by standing in front of them and throwing items at officers. Polk Place was cleared in approximately 45 minutes. Afterwards, UNC Facilities cleared the area of significant debris,” the university said in a statement. “After the area was cleared, the remaining protesters escalated their tactics, attempting to forcibly enter South Building by pushing officers and refusing to comply with requests from Facilities and UNC Police.” 

“For the last several months, we have spoken regularly and respectfully with the demonstrators on our campus, consistently supporting their right to assemble and express their views. We have also clearly communicated the University’s long-standing policies on the use of shared public spaces. We have been clear that students and community members can assemble and make their voices heard, but University policies must be followed,” Roberts and Clemens said. “We respect and support the rights of peaceful protesters. While anyone – including students, faculty and staff – may gather and exercise their rights to free speech, state law and the Board of Governors policy prohibit disruption of University operations. This commitment to free speech and the policies for demonstrating are shared at the beginning of each academic semester.” 


The chancellor and provost said demonstrations had abided by university policies in recent weeks, but “that changed Sunday evening when protesters – including outside activists – backtracked on their commitment to comply with these policies, including trespassing into classroom buildings overnight.” 

“This group has now made it clear they will no longer even consider our requests to abide by University policies and have ended our attempts at constructive dialogue,” they said early Tuesday. “We must consider the safety of all of our students, faculty and staff, as well as visitors to this campus. Our students are preparing for final exams and end-of-year activities, including graduation, and we will continue to promote an educational environment where they can do so safely and without disruption. ” 

WRAL-TV reported that police could be seen removing protesters, some of whom were led away in zip ties. 

UNC students protest as guards stand

Video circulating online showed a tense scene as protesters chanted to police “We will not stop, we will not rest, disclose, divest.”  


“Let them go, let them go,” crowds shouted as officers began detaining demonstrators. 

A protester was heard yelling to law enforcement, “Hands off you pigs, hands off you filthy pigs, hands off you useless s—s, and get a real job.”

guards stand during UNC protest

“We see you, we love you,” crowds chanted in support of one protester being taken into custody. 

UNC Students for Justice in Palestine, a group organizing the protests, said in a post on its Instagram story that “all arrested students and community members have been released,” and promised further action on campus at noon after law enforcement dismantled the encampment earlier in the morning and erected barriers around Polk Place.


The student newspaper, The Daily TarHeel, reported that six of the approximately 30 detained were placed under arrest and face charges. 

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