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New Orleans: Loyola and Tulane students successfully establish Popular University for Gaza, set up an encampment

By staff

Pro-Palestine encampment at Gibson Hall on the Tulane campus. | Fight Back! News/staff

New Orleans, LA – On Monday, April 29, around 5 p.m., Students for a Democratic Society at Loyola and Tulane universities held a joint rally and march which gathered over 300 people. Students, university staff and community allies marched on both Tulane and Loyola’s campuses. The protesters paused on a sidewalk in front of Tulane’s admissions building and Gibson Hall, the oldest structure. Suddenly, the students took to the lawn in front of the building to set up their camping site.

The setup process was met with clashes with law enforcement. Tulane University Police Department officers were present and so was the New Orleans Police Department. Police authorities were prepared with riot and SWAT gear on standby. The student protesters began setting up camp as the community circled around them chanting: “Disclose! Divest! We will not stop we will not rest!”

The chanting continued as police officers rode horses into the crowd, and other officers attacked protesters and tackled some to the ground. The police actions caused a frenzy, but the students and allies remained united. The police arrested and carried seven protesters away. Approximately 30 minutes later, the camp was successfully established.

The student organizers took to the microphone and chanted their demands. “We demand that our universities divest fully from Israeli corporations that supply arms, fuel, or technology to Israel, and we demand that they disclose the annual investments of their respective endowment as of 2023,” said Carson Cruse, Loyola SDS member, as the crowd repeated his words.

Community allies formed a human barricade which continued getting populated for several hours and used umbrellas to deter police officers from approaching. The officers eventually stepped back. Hours later, the Louisiana State Police arrived on the scene. LSP officers stood approximately 15 feet away from the human chain that remained circling the encampment all night.

The students played music, shared food, received supplies, held chants, and gave speeches all through the night. During that time, many advocated via phone calls for the release of the seven arrestees who had been transported to Orleans Parish Prison.

At approximately 12:30 a.m., a protester who had been transported to Orleans Parish Prison and released less than five hours later returned to the encampment to give a speech and support the students. “We have nothing to fear, because we are standing with the bravest people in the world: the Palestinian resistance!” said Serena Sojic-Borne, a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization. All seven protesters were released at around 11:15 p.m. that same night.

The Tulane/Loyola encampment entered its second day on April 30. Police have remained near the encampment but have not approached since the initial arrests were made.

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