Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Protesters arrested in waves following second encampment

Over 130 arrested during Gaza solidarity protest
Kalina Kornacki

This story will be updated as more information is provided

8:20 p.m. update: An email was sent out by Chancellor Reyes to the campus community on the arrests. “A safe and respectful learning environment is foundational to enabling free expression and the exchange of ideas – including through peaceful demonstrations,” the email reads. “Guided by these values, I made the difficult decision last night to ask the University of Massachusetts Police Department to clear the site of an unauthorized fortified encampment that had been erected on the South Lawn of the Student Union.”

Reyes claimed that 132 people were arrested, including around 70 UMass students and 6 Amherst faculty members.

Reyes said that he met with a variety of campus stakeholders about the arrests on May 7, and he is asking “SGA and GSS (to) convene a special meeting where my leadership team and I can engage in dialogue and answer questions about this challenging episode.”

A meeting with the Faculty Senate has already been agreed to.

“Again, I know how challenging these events have been for everyone. Safety, wellbeing, and a sense of belonging are paramount for our community’s ability to thrive, and I recognize that there is work to do as we restore trust with those who feel harmed by the university’s actions. My greatest hope is to continue dialogue, even – and especially – with those who disagree with or question the university’s stances and actions,” the statement finished.

5:42 p.m. update: A joint statement from AFSCME Local 1776, Graduate Employee Organization, Massachusetts Society of Professors, Professional Staff Union (UMass Amherst and UMass Boston Chapter Boards) and the University Staff Association has been obtained by the Collegian.

“The five largest unions at UMass Amherst, representing thousands of staff, faculty, and graduate workers, condemn the ongoing criminalization of free speech, the over-policing of campus, the infliction of violence upon our students, and the administration’s decision to endanger the health and safety of the entire campus rather than negotiate solutions,” reads the statement.

“In this national atmosphere, Reyes’s decision to ask the police to break up the protest was tantamount to inviting police violence … there is no valid justification for using force against students simply because they pitched a few tents on the campus lawn, a crime that carries the same weight as jaywalking.”

12:55 p.m. update: The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts released a statement earlier today criticizing the arrests at UMass. 

“While other campuses across the country have engaged demonstrators in productive dialogue, we are highly concerned that University of Massachusetts Amherst leaders chose to invite armed police into a campus protest environment,” the statement read. “Reports that police may have attempted to shield their activity from press and legal observers raise additional concerns about press freedom and transparency, which are essential to accountability.”

“Campus administrators have an obligation to protect students’ safety on campus; at the same time, they must take all necessary measures to protect students’ right to protest. Calling heavily armed police on student political expression is an inherently dangerous choice.”

11:30 a.m. update: According to a statement from University Spokesperson Edward Blaguszewski, 109 people have been booked as a result of the encampment, and around 25 people are waiting to be processed. 

Blaguszewski’s statement read: “As chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, I want to offer the Board’s full and unwavering support for Chancellor Javier Reyes,” said Chairman Stephen Karam. “We have absolute confidence in his leadership, his integrity, and his commitment to our students.”

UMass’ Student Government Association is seeking student consultation on a motion of no confidence in Chancellor Javier Reyes. The senate will convene tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Cape Cod Lounge.

6:30 a.m. update: As of 6:30 a.m., police presence remained outside the Mullins Center. An unconfirmed number of arrested protestors are still being held in the facility. At UMass Police Department, arrested protestors continue to be processed and released.

1:30 a.m. update: After the remaining 37 protesters were removed from the lawn, police formed a perimeter around the Campus Center Parking Garage, where arrested individuals were being taken away, and were followed by protesters. 

As police walked towards Whitmore, a protester collided with a police officer near the Old Chapel, prompting four arrests as the crowd near the officers fled. Several similar incidents have occurred as police slowly make their way towards Whitmore. About 70 protesters are still gathered in front of officers.

One person fell and suffered a knee injury, and an ambulance arrived to chants of “your fault.” The injured person said, “I can’t feel my knee,” and they appeared to be in considerable pain. 12 officers stayed behind to assist with the ambulance, while the rest headed for the exit.

As police begin to leave the area, arrested protesters were transported to the Mullins Center for holding via campus shuttles. Protesters were ushered through the back entrance of the Mullins Center, which is not visible from Commonwealth Avenue.

As of 12:30 a.m., there were approximately 12 protesters released on $40 bail from the UMass Police Department. The rest of the arrested protesters are being held at Mullins, UMPD or are in transit. UMPD is unable to confirm how many students are held at Mullins at this time.

Jack Underhill

11:45 p.m. update: The current 117 police vehicles are parked at Whitmore, including 109 State Police cars. Police were spotted loaded arrested protesters onto a campus shuttle.

11:24 p.m. update: Within the last 30 minutes, 10 protesters have been released from the UMass Police Department on bail. All arrested protesters are believed to be processed through the UMass Police Department.

10:51 p.m. update: The entire encampment has been torn down. Protesters continue to be arrested. A helicopter was spotted above campus.

10:45 p.m. update: According to a legal observer from the National Lawyer’s Guild, at least 64 protesters have been arrested as of 10:45 p.m. Around the encampment, police have pushed multiple protesters and kicked them while on the ground.

10:34 p.m. update: 11 more protesters arrested by the encampment.

10:18 p.m. update: Eight more protesters arrested by the encampment. Over 50 protesters have been detained by 10:15 p.m.

10:02 p.m. update: Nine more protesters arrested by the encampment and taken to the Student Union.

9:56 p.m. update: Eight more protesters arrested by the encampment. They were taken to a police transport van outside the Student Union.

9:48 p.m. update: Officers approach the encampment from the Whitmore parking lot holding batons and riot shields. Around 200 protesters remain in the encampment area. Police continue to tear down tents within the encampment. 

9:32 p.m. update: An estimated 25-26 protesters have been arrested as of 9:32 p.m. according to a legal observer from the National Lawyer’s Guild.

9:24 p.m. update: The wall of police surrounded the encampment and began arresting more protesters. A protester was pushed down on the pavement and arrested. Another protester ran after the arrested student and was also pushed to the pavement and handcuffed.

9:12 p.m. update: Police reinforcements arrived on South lawn. Some carry paintball guns. The ammunition within the guns cannot be confirmed. Police officers are covering their names and badges to conceal their identities.

8:53 p.m. update: Two more protesters were arrested and loaded into an Amherst Police Department van parked outside the Student Union. Police announce no allowance for observers or onlookers, declaring an unlawful assembly.

8:46 p.m. update: Police around the Student Union armed themselves with paintball guns. Four more students were arrested. The line once held by police broke and South Lawn is now flooded with protesters.

8:37 p.m. update: Inside the encampment, tensions continue to rise. Protesters chant “Hold the line.” Police officers began to move toward the Student Union building. Officers push down a tent. 

8:30 p.m. update: Two facility services light tower vehicles arrived near the Student Union as night fell upon the UMass campus. At the same time, an email from Javier Reyes was sent to all members of the greater UMass community. 

“Moments ago, I asked the University of Massachusetts Police Department to begin dispersing the crowd and dismantling the encampment. Let me be clear – involving law enforcement is the absolute last resort,” wrote Reyes via email. “It saddens me to send this message tonight, but I am hopeful that our campus community will persevere to find common ground and come together in these challenging times.”

8:27 p.m. update: A third Amherst Police Department van left the encampment area without taking any protesters. 

8:13 p.m. update: Three middle-aged protesters and two student protesters were arrested and taken away in a Hampshire Police prisoner transport van.

8:00 p.m. update: Another protester was arrested from outside the encampment. The police moved everyone off South Lawn and are threatening anyone that remains with arrest.

7:45 p.m. update: Approximately 35 police surrounded part of the encampment and are beginning to arrest protesters. Five protesters were put in zip ties and walked away to an Amherst Police Department prisoner transport van by Memorial Hall.

Among the arrested protesters was Associate Professor Kevin Young. He was part of the negotiations with administration hours earlier.

7:27 p.m. update: 19 police in riot gear have entered the area around the encampment. An officer read a dispersal order, which was drowned out by protesters. Two UMPD officers are actively closing off the terrace between Du Bois and the encampment.

7:20 p.m. update: A letter, from members of the UMass Demonstration Response and Safety Team – including Jeffery Hescock, Dawn Bond, and Farshid Hajir – was distributed to those at the encampment.

It noted that they support demonstrators’ first amendment rights to free speech, but that those present at the encampment are trespassing. 

They can continue to demonstrate but must break down and remove tents. If demonstrators do not dismantle the tents the “UMPD will respond, which may result in your arrest,” according to the letter. 

Additionally, the document noted that the UMass student trustee has submitted an endowment divestment proposal to the UMass Foundation. UMass administrators, according to the letter, have communicated to protesters how they can continue to be involved in that review process. 

6:19 p.m. update: State police special emergency response team (SERT) are present along with vans from the Hampshire County Sheriff’s office and Amherst Police Department. Attorney Rachel Weber told protesters to expect police presence soon, and told protesters to let police liaisons talk with them. Protesters were told to hold off on chants towards police until they disrupt the protest.

An organizer on the student union south lawn addressed the crowd of at least 300 gathered outside of the encampment to outline procedure for the crowd if arrests occur.

Each protester in the encampment preparing to be arrested has been given an identification number, which they will shout when they are led out. The crowd will then repeat the number, allowing organizers to know who has been arrested.

“It is our job as bystanders, as witnesses, to repeat that number without cutting them off,” the organizer said.

Police liaisons who identified themselves as Hades and Square said that protesters outside of the encampment are using “active resistance” with police presence. All students who are planning on getting arrested have an ID number written on their arm that they can yell out if they are being arrested or detained. According to Square, people on the outside of the encampment are “not planning on arrested” and are linking arms to show “strength and support.”

“People have a good sense of what they’re willing to do,” added Square.

Kiv, a police liaison affiliated with the encampment, said “we do know that we will be here until our demands are met.”

6:01 p.m. update: State Troopers outside Whitmore Administrative Building were seen with bunches of zip-tie handcuffs. These were the same restraints used to arrest 57 protesters at Whitmore in October.

Four protesters stationed in trees within the encampment said that they intend to be arrested.

5:55 p.m. update: Joseph Levine, a philosophy professor, said that the demonstrators decided to “up the ante.”

“The problem is that even though the university claims that the encampments– and this is not just this university, but all across the country– are a disruption and interruption of academic life as normal. The point is, that’s right, it is a disruption.”

Levine referenced the recent incursion into Rafah by Israeli forces as a motivating factor. “When something like a full blown genocide is taking place with active massive US support, it’s wrong to let business be usual, it’s important to disrupt, it’s important to say we’re willing, and these very courageous students, and a number of the faculty are willing to put their bodies and their freedom on the line because what’s happening in Gaza is so many times worse than that.”

“It definitely is time to rise up and make known our utter disgust at our government’s policy… Obviously, the administration can’t stop the war in Gaza. But they can at least express their willingness to cut any relation they may have to that war and their inability to do that, I think, brings shame on this university and all the universities that are refusing.” 

5:33 p.m. update: 22 State Trooper, Amherst and UMass police cars arrived at Whitmore alongside one prisoner transport van. Protesters completely linked arms shoulder to shoulder all the way around the encampment. Police have yet to arrive from Whitmore. Some organizers are walking around asking people if they have filed jail support forms.

Student negotiators inside Whitmore heard Chancellor Reyes’ offers and are now preparing for a second round of discussion.

A letter from the UMass Amherst Popular University addressed to Chancellor Reyes presented demands for UMass to disclose all direct and indirect partnerships with defense contractors and corporations affiliated with Israel and to end study abroad programs with Israel. The letter also called for the “abolition of the Board of Trustees and its replacement with a directly elected body of university students, faculty, and staff.” The protesters are still calling for divestment and for University sanctions and charges to dropped against the arrested students.

4:45 p.m. update: Members of SJP, Faculty for Justice in Palestine, the GEO Palestinian Solidarity Caucus, Young Communist League and the UMass Dissenters were involved in conversation regarding the meeting with Chancellor Reyes and senior members from the Chancellor’s staff. The meeting began at around 4:30 and it is unconfirmed who is in attendance.

4:46 p.m. update: Statement from UMass Spokesperson Edward Blaguszewski: ” UMass Amherst has a strong commitment to protecting the free and open exchange of ideas guaranteed by the First Amendment and the university’s founding values. Earlier today, a group of demonstrators constructed an unauthorized encampment – including wooden barricades – on the South Lawn of Student Union in violation of university policy. The Demonstration Response and Safety Team notified those present that, while they could stay and continue to demonstrate, as is their right, unauthorized structures must be removed.”

Original article posted at 4:29 p.m.

Hundreds of student protesters established a Gaza solidarity encampment on the University of Massachusetts Student Union South lawn on Tuesday, May 7 at around 1 p.m. Protesters are calling for the University to divest from war-profiteering companies involved in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and to drop the charges of the students arrested at the Whitmore demonstration in October.

A meeting is scheduled between a small number of representatives from the encampment and Chancellor Javier Reyes accompanied by members of his staff later today.

At around 1:30, members of the Demonstration Response and Safety Team warned the protesters that they were trespassing.

This is the second encampment formed on the UMass campus this semester and is part of an ongoing nationwide movement of “Popular Universities for Gaza” forming on college campuses.  

There are three “tiers” within the encampment. The red tier consists of roughly 15 people inside an enclosed area made of wooden crates, who say they are willing to be arrested. The orange tier consists of a group of student protesters circled around the enclosed area linking arms that are willing to interact with police but not be arrested. The last tier of people surrounding the encampment across the lawn are involved in the protest but say they are not willing to be arrested.  

Near the W.E.B. DuBois Library, counter-protesters gathered, waving the flag of Israel.

Around 2 p.m., a police car could be seen near the Old Chapel, which left around 2:15 p.m. A police officer was spotted at approximately 2:15 p.m. by the library. There were about 300 people at this time.

At approximately 3:20 p.m., five representatives from the UMass administration arrived at the encampment and issued another warning for trespassing. Ruya Hazeyen, the president of  SJP, confirmed that a meeting with Chancellor Javier Reyes will occur at an unconfirmed time, following the warnings from administration. However, SJP claims that if any encampment participants get arrested, then all negotiations are off. 

According to University Spokesperson Edward Blaguszewski, the Chancellor has agreed to meet privately with a small number of representatives from the encampment and a small number of senior members of the Chancellor’s staff. “Details beyond this stage I do not have at the time,” he said. 

Lucas Ruud can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    DaveMay 9, 2024 at 7:31 am

    Perhaps Reyes ought to familiarize himself with UMASS’ long and proud tradition of protest. It’s engrained in its history; UMASS became what it is because of its growth which coincided with anti-war movement in the 60s and 70s, led by its incredibly talented, and young faculty. To act so quickly is a major power play that Reyes must be doing for his resume and not out of any real concern for the UMASS community.
    UMASS students have also been at the forefront of protesting Apartheid, Anthrax and DOD research, and state budget cuts and underfunding. This is a bad move which offends alumni who appreciate the right to protest and free speech and what makes UM and the entire Valley special. I’m disgusted that he would play this card; it’s a major overreach and tone deaf. He’s clearly auditioning for his next job and will be gone in 2 years. Great hire.

  • D

    DamonMay 9, 2024 at 12:24 am

    Many thanks to my Collegian colleagues from this UMA alum for your dedicated coverage of these dramatic events. You’ve provided valuable on-site reporting to communities that would not otherwise have learned of such specific details. Shame on the university for its reckless and unprincipled response in calling on the paramilitary to suppress the free expression of antiwar viewpoints that challenged the administration to divest from the business as usual model that delivers only death and suffering to Palestinians and to peoples around the globe.

  • M

    Mother Against GENOCIDEMay 8, 2024 at 6:07 pm

    I expected more from UMass. To say, I am disappointed, is an understatement. This was an opportunity to demonstrate our moral courage as an exemplary, educational institution, dedicated to universal rights to freedom, liberation, and self determination. GENOCIDE, Apartheid & Illegal military occupation is NEVER JUSTIFIED. Given the historic accuracy of students, and the communities general distain for supporting war crimes of any kind…. This ADMINISTRATION FAILED. This is not consistent with Our community values and what we teach our children as a whole.

    I demand an apology from the administration and hope that legal action is taken to prevent these type of unfortunate and egregious violations of our right, going forward. We need moral leadership and the courage to make IT clear that the fallacies stating these protests are anything OTHER THAN safe, inclusive, morally aligned, acts of conscience protest. Defaming, slandering, vilifying and unjustly arresting students exercising their right to protest peacefully is a stain on the fabric of UMASS integrity.

  • F

    Fritz HanlonMay 8, 2024 at 5:36 pm

    Who was driving the PVTA busses that took the arrestees to the Mullins Center? Who at the Mullins Center, which is privately managed authorized its use for detainees?

  • H

    Hibah OsmanMay 8, 2024 at 5:31 pm

    Disgusted parent here. Thank you for reporting on the horrors of yesterday. Reyes needs to be sent to jail!

  • A

    ARMMay 8, 2024 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you for keeping the campus community updated. Very disappointing to see how the administration is handling Pro-Palestine protests.

  • S

    Sanjiv GuptaMay 8, 2024 at 3:00 pm

    Faculty member here who rarely reads the Collegian but is starting now. Keep up the great reporting!

  • K

    KatMay 8, 2024 at 2:30 pm

    Thank you MDC!!

  • J

    Jonathan FarnkMay 8, 2024 at 2:24 pm

    Kudos on the play by play. Best I’ve seen on any campus. At Columbia folks had to get their play by play from the radio station which crashed their stream. Proving once again, print media is still the bedrock of our media landscape. Only question is your contention that the coppers were were carrying paintball guns. I’ve faced live rounds, teargas, rubber bullets and bean bags. Paintball is new to me. My only guess would be the coppers want to mark you if you are engaged in a running battle with the coppers they know who to thump.

  • C

    Carter GriséMay 8, 2024 at 11:25 am

    Thank you for your reporting on this story! UMass appreciates you all, folks of the MDC.

  • C

    CeciliaMay 8, 2024 at 10:11 am

    Thank you so much you guys…keep up the good work!
    Too old to join the kids but there in spirit

  • C

    CMNMay 8, 2024 at 10:00 am

    As an alum, I’m disgusted by the administration/police response to a peaceful protest.
    Shame on them.

  • L

    LuluMay 8, 2024 at 9:06 am

    Collegian news team you are amazing

  • P

    PatrickMay 8, 2024 at 8:28 am

    Thanks for this coverage! Speaking as an alum, I’m livid at the actions of the administration here. Is there any kind of legal fund or other way to support those arrested that someone can link me to?

  • L

    Lorraine CordeiroMay 8, 2024 at 8:26 am

    Thank you, Collegian. ~ UMass Faculty member

  • 5

    5coll FacultyMay 8, 2024 at 5:41 am

    Thank you. You were the only media source doing this, and it needs to be done. Strength for the days ahead as you hold admin to account for the violence they unleashed.

  • S

    SamMay 8, 2024 at 1:33 am

    strong reporting, sending props from Emerson Journalism

  • Y

    YasminMay 8, 2024 at 1:17 am

    We appreciate your hard work reporting tonight <3

  • H

    HelenaMay 7, 2024 at 11:33 pm

    Collegian staff really coming through for campus students right now

    • S

      ShelleyMay 8, 2024 at 1:39 am

      And the rest of the community who are interested in what is happening on campus tonight.

  • H

    HelenMay 7, 2024 at 9:57 pm

    Thank you for your reporting!

  • B

    BobMay 7, 2024 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks for your service, Collegian Staff!