Pro-Palestinian protesters at Drexel leave encampment as police arrive

Protesters were given a warning from Drexel police before the PPD moved in.

Hundreds of Pro-Palestinian protesters marched from City Hall toward University City on Saturday. They linked arms and encircled a group of people setting up tents on Drexel University's campus.

Hundreds of Pro-Palestinian protesters marched from City Hall toward University City on Saturday. They linked arms and encircled a group of people setting up tents on Drexel University's campus. (Emily Neil/WHYY News)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Drexel University have cleared out from the campus encampment in Philadelphia’s University City section, without incident.

Shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday, Drexel police gave a warning to protesters to clear the encampment before Philadelphia police arrived to assist.

Officials said the protesters then began to leave on their own almost immediately.

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“Fortunately, looks like we’re going to be able to complete this operation without having to make any arrests, any use of force, anything of that nature,” Sergeant Eric Gripp, with the Philadelphia Police Department.

The roadway at 33rd and Market streets, heading into Center City, is closed to traffic. However, one lane is open for those heading toward University City.

Police said they will remain in the area for the time being.

This comes amid continued calls from the university’s president to disband, saying protesters “have created a hostile, confrontational environment by subjecting passersby to antisemitic speech and by issuing several ‘demands’ that have unacceptably targeted individual members of our faculty and professional staff” as well as Jewish groups on campus.

“Any Drexel student in the encampment is violating our University Code of Conduct. All demonstrators have been warned throughout the week verbally, via emails and posted signage that they are trespassing on University property and must disperse,” said Fry in a statement Wednesday night.

Action News has been told there are roughly 25 to 30 protesters in the encampment.

The pro-Palestinian encampment at the Korman Quad near Market and JFK has been set up since Saturday. It popped up shortly after a similar encampment was removed from the University of Pennsylvania campus. Since then, other demonstrations on and near the Ivy League campus were held and led to several arrests.

The dozens who set up the Gaza Solidarity encampment at Drexel previously said they were made up of members of the Philadelphia community. It is unclear how many of them were Drexel students.

President Fry previously threatened disciplinary action against Drexel students participating in the protest.

Drexel University is also expected to return to normal operations Thursday.

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All classes, lectures, facilities and events will return to their normal operation Thursday, with the exception of the Korman Center, which will remain closed until further notice, the university announced Wednesday night. Security protocols will remain in place, including the need for identification to enter a campus building via a single point of entry.

Earlier in the week, classes were held virtually as police kept watch over the demonstration on the school’s Korman Quad.

The Drexel protesters’ demands ranged from the university administration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and divesting from companies that do business with Israel, to abolition of the Drexel police department and termination of the school’s chapter of Hillel, the Jewish campus organization, and another Jewish campus group, Chabad.

In an Instagram post earlier this week, the Drexel Palestine Coalition said, “It is slander to accuse the encampment of ‘hateful’ or ‘intimidating’ actions when we have done neither.” The group accused Drexel and city police of harassment and intimidation. A pro-Palestinian group of faculty and staff also blasted Fry on Monday for shuttering campus facilities and said the encampment was “not disruptive to learning.”

Fry said several requested meetings with protesters have been refused.

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