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At Least 17 Protesters Arrested After U Students Set Up Encampment in Solidarity with Palestine

The encampment was not formally announced in the social media post organizing the rally.
Marco Lozzi
Pro-Palestine demonstrators organize around a newly built encampment in front of the John R. Park Building at the University of Utah during the Emergency Rally For Palestine on Monday, Apr. 29, 2024. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Last Updated: April 30, 12:12 a.m.


Following many pro-Palestinian protests across the country, University of Utah students followed suit, setting up an encampment on Monday evening. There was no formal announcement that their emergency rally would become an encampment. Around 11:oo p.m., law enforcement began tearing down tents, arresting demonstrators and pushing the group away from President’s Circle. 

“Dear Universities: You can’t suspend the movement,” read Mecha’s post for the rally.

On April 18, over 100 protestors at Columbia University were arrested for their participation in a protest encampment on university grounds, sparking a wave of student-led pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the United States and worldwide

“We stand in solidarity with students everywhere that are facing police and state repression and yet continuing the struggle,” Gabriela Merida, an organizer with Mecha, said in a video promoting the rally.

Mecha organized to “demand that the University of Utah disclose, divest and cut all ties with Israel and war profiteering companies,” Merida said in the video. The demands echo those of students nationwide calling on their universities to divest from companies with ties to Israel.

Mecha has specifically criticized the U’s affiliation with 47G, an organization that brings together “industry, academic, and government leadership to advance the interest of aerospace, defense, and cyber companies,” as is stated in the organization’s FAQs.

The University of Utah currently pays $50,000 in annual membership fees for a place on 47G’s board and will co-sponsor a summit with the organization this fall, in which they will be investing $100,000.

In an interview with The Daily Utah Chronicle, Merida said students are here today to demand the U divest and cut all ties with Israel. 

“They are capable of meeting the demands yesterday,” she said. “They can do this. They act like they can’t. They just want the money.”

The protest comes at the end of finals week and near graduation. Merida said they won’t stop until they see a free Palestine. 

“We are going to continue to escalate until Palestine is free,” she said. “So not just until the university divests, but we’re going to continue to organize until we see a free Palestine.” 

Elizabeth Clement is a professor of history at the U. She said she was at the protest to show support for students.

“It’s my understanding that as a public university, we follow the First Amendment which means free speech, even if that speech is hate speech,” Clement said. “And I just want it to be clear what people can do in protests. And I think peaceful protests are fine and I think the university should allow peaceful protest.”

“We hope today’s protest will be peaceful,” said Captain Jason Hinojosa of the University of Utah police before the protest.

“As University Public Safety, we’re here to preserve the peace and safety of the campus, but also to protect people’s right to free expression,” Hinojosa said. “As heated as the rhetoric has been about the war between Israel and Hamas, we are here, first and foremost, to preserve public safety, and then to make sure people are able to express their opinions.” 

The University Department of Public Safety released a statement late Monday telling protesters to take down their tents immediately, or they will be removed by law enforcement. 

“Students, faculty, staff and community members, you have the right to express your viewpoint and we have heard you,” the DPS statement reads. “You do not, however, have the right to set up structures or camp overnight. You are violating Utah state law and University of Utah free speech policy.”

Utah Administrative Code 805-3-3 does not allow camping on the U’s campus without prior approval from the University Scheduling Office.

Protestors on the University of Utah campus form a human chain to protect the encampment in solidarity with Palestine. (Photo by Emerson Hagy | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

The statement also includes consequences for students, faculty, staff and community members. 

It says that students would face “University discipline ranging from probation to suspension, and criminal trespass and disorderly conduct charges.” 

Faculty and staff would face “University discipline including up to termination, and criminal trespass and disorderly conduct charges.” 

Community members would face criminal trespass and disorderly conduct charges.

Around 10:00 p.m., police issued protestors a 10-minute warning but protestors continued to stand their ground, chanting, “Students, students stand your ground, UPD back down.”

Police warned organizers that they would use “reasonable force” if necessary. Soon after, police started gathering outside the Park Building in riot gear, complete with helmets and shields.

Around 10:50 p.m., police started surrounding the group of protesters. Just minutes later, a squad of police approached and surrounded the group.

“Why are you in riot gear? There is no violence here!” protestors shouted.

At 11:00 p.m., officers closed in on the protestors. There was shouting, and one person was grabbed and put into custody by 11:01 p.m.

Five minutes later, cops began taking down tents and dragging some of the protestors towards the Park building. They also threw supplies out of the way.

A handful of protestors were arrested and escorted away, with police using zip ties as handcuffs.



At 11:14 p.m., chants from protestors started again and the police issued another warning.

“If you disperse immediately you will not be arrested,” an officer said. “If you do not comply you will be arrested, reasonable force may be used.”

As drones hovered above, police formed a barricade, blocking protestors from going back to their encampment.

“Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” protesters continued to chant.

At 11:21 p.m., most of the tents had been taken down. Soon after, enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, with signs, trash, water bottles, pizza boxes and blankets left where the previous encampment was.

At 11:45 p.m., the university updated their statement to protestors to announce 17 protestors had been arrested and a hatchet was confiscated. Reportedly, no protestors were injured and one officer was injured.

Rubber bullets were allegedly used against the remaining protestors. At around midnight, demonstrators were pushed off campus.

Since the start of the conflict between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7, over 34,000 Gazans have been killed. On Sunday night, Israel carried out a series of airstrikes on Rafah, a southern city in Gaza. The strikes left at least 22 people dead, according to the Associated Press

Israel has reportedly been working with mediators from Egypt and Qatar to develop a hostage release deal. The proposed deal includes a 40-day truce in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages, though it is unclear whether Hamas will accept the proposal. 


April 29, 5:30 p.m. • This is a breaking story and will be updated as the story progresses.


Emerson Hagy contributed to this story. 


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About the Contributors
Vanessa Hudson
Vanessa Hudson, Editor in Chief
Vanessa is from Grand Junction, Colorado. She's a junior majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in modern dance and political science. She is passionate about what she reports on, and she usually winds up writing about local politics and issues. When Vanessa isn't writing, you can find her trying out some new choreography, listening to public radio or watching Marvel and Star Wars movies.
Josi Hinds
Josi Hinds, News Editor
Josi Hinds is in her second year at the University of Utah, majoring in communications with a minor in both gender studies and Spanish (for now). She grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and moved to Salt Lake in hopes of venturing out in the world and meeting new people. She joined the Chronicle out of a love for writing and meeting new people, and she hopes to share stories that broaden both her and others' perspective on the world
Marco Lozzi
Marco Lozzi, Photographer
Born in Texas and raised by Italian parents, Marco Lozzi grew up with two vastly different cultures. Now a sophomore at the U, he is majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis while also minoring in photography and Italian. He joined the Chrony to gain experience working as a photojournalist for a larger entity. When he's not taking or editing photos, he can be found hitting the slopes, napping, or making pasta.
Emerson Hagy
Emerson Hagy is a news writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is pursuing his two degrees in Psychology and Writing & Rhetoric at the University of Utah. Emerson grew up in Oklahoma and moved to Utah for college. In his free time he loves to rock climb outdoors and hike.

Comments (8)

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  • M

    MKWilliamsApr 30, 2024 at 6:03 pm

    I am puzzled. Where were the protesters for the 1200+ innocent Israelis who were massacred on October 7? Babies beheaded, young girls and women raped and brutalized? Others kidnapped and tortured. Where is the support for them? As long as Palestinians allow Hamas to drive the train, Israel will do all in its power to protect the only democracy in the Middle East.

    • C

      CeasefireNowMay 2, 2024 at 8:37 am

      Respectfully, 35,000 people killed because the other side killed 1200 is hardly a proportional response. Nearly half of the people in Gaza are under 18 so I’d hardly say they’re “allowing” Hamas to be in power. Not to mention that Netanyahu himself assisted in Hamas becoming the main governance in Gaza. What happened October 7th was terrorism and it was horrifying, killing civilians is never ok, but you can’t uphold an illegal apartheid and kill peaceful protesters time and time again without expecting some violent resistance.

  • J

    Julie PeppersApr 30, 2024 at 7:40 am

    Good for the UPD! To the writer why didn’t you include how many Israeli people have been killed?! Or how this war started by Hamas attacking people at a concert?!

    • J

      jolie poppersApr 30, 2024 at 9:16 am

      under a thousand israeli civilians? or how the war was started by israel occupying stolen land for the last 70 years? be so fr

      • J

        JoeApr 30, 2024 at 3:58 pm

        And what do you purpose to the current israeliens that are living in that area?

      • J

        Julie ChillyApr 30, 2024 at 5:23 pm

        Utah is part of Mexico if we say history?

  • J

    Jim SmedleyApr 30, 2024 at 4:27 am

    Good coverage- hats off to Chrony staff — JS – former Chronicle staffer – Class of ‘79.

  • F

    Free PalestineApr 30, 2024 at 12:44 am

    “no protestors were injured” yet “rubber bullets were allegedly used against the remaining protestors?” I call BS. Interested to see what the officer’s injury was though… twisted his ankle while chasing a peaceful protestor?