Weapons, ‘traps’ found at protest camp, DePaul administration says

Some of the images DePaul University posted to support its decision to clear the quad encampment on May 16, 2024. (DePaul University)

CHICAGO — DePaul University has published a detailed explanation of its decision on Thursday to have Chicago police clear a pro-Palestine encampment that had overtaken the school’s quad since April 30. The school supported its decision with a collection of videos and photos, including some that showed weapons and physical assault.

“We do not take this kind of action lightly, and we worked toward a solution hoping that we would never arrive here,” a school statement read. “However, in the face of significant evidence that the encampment was dangerous to those in and around it, we concluded that the encampment could not continue.”

The school said it had registered over 625 complaints from “neighbors and community members” about the encampment and over 425 complaints from people associated with the school. Administrators estimate that $180,000 in damages have been inflicted on the quad and surrounding areas. According to the administration, 45 university events were canceled, as were recess and outdoor activities at Oscar Mayer Elementary School.

The school also posted “Divestment Coalition demands” and two of the school’s responses to those demands.

Chicago police officers arrived at the school around 5 a.m. Thursday to clear the quad, where several dozen tents had filled the plaza. CWBChicago reported last night that the dismantling of the encampment had been scheduled for sunrise on Wednesday, but it was postponed for unknown reasons.

DePaul also posted a collection of surveillance videos, social media posts, and photos documenting “threats to safety and disruption of campus operations.”

The images include photos of weapons, including “boards on ground with long nails/screws sticking out as traps along the Fullerton fence,” a pellet gun, five large knives, and a “hidden and covered bowling ball.”

The videos allegedly show drums and microphones being used at 12:30 a.m. on May 3, a man carrying an Israeli flag being assaulted, and a clip labeled “Jewish Alliance bake sale.”

Social media posts, including one in which a protester motions the slitting of a throat after flashing a hand sign referring to the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel. A Tweet included in the school’s collection shows the encampment chanting “We are the Intifada” at night, accompanied by a man on a microphone and drumming.

Other images posted by the school show bike locks allegedly placed by protesters on library doors,, barricades erected, and infrastructure removed. Other pictures show graffiti scrawled on the campus, including “F* Israel,” “Zionists are welcomed here,” and “F* CPD. F*** DePaul.”

Yet another image shows a “$500 bounty for identification of protestors.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com