UNC pro-Palestinian protestors detained and 6 reported arrested — UNC leaders speak out


By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

UPDATE May 2, 2024:

UNC media told TLR: We had two reports of minor medical issues in the morning, one report of heat exhaustion and one of vomiting. Neither of those people were transported. In the afternoon, a UNC Police officer was transported to UNC Hospital for a possible concussion. 

UNC-Chapel Hill confirms that 36 protesters were detained in the morning after failing to abide by Tuesday’s order to disperse from Polk Place. Thirty were cited for trespassing and released on-site, including 10 current UNC-Chapel Hill students and 20 people not affiliated with the University.

The remaining six were arrested and transported to the Orange County Magistrates Office. They were charged with trespassing and later released on a written promise to appear. Three of the protesters arrested are UNC-Chapel Hill students and the other three are not affiliated with the University. 

The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Interim Chancellor Roberts and Provost Clemens issued a statement at 5:30 a.m. this morning that led to the detention of 30 pro-Palestinian protesters and six arrests. The statement called for protestors to leave the area by 6 a.m. or “…face arrest and other consequences” and demanded that all protesters “assembled in Polk Place must remove all tents, tables, and other items and depart from the area.”

Clemens and Roberts said in the letter, “Failure to follow this order to disperse will result in consequences including possible arrest, suspension from campus and, ultimately, expulsion from the university, which may prevent students from graduating.”

At 6 a.m., UNC Media Relations reported the UNC Police calmly approached the group and detained approximately 30 people who remained in the “Triangle Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” During that time, the protesters attempted to block the UNC Police vehicles by standing before them and throwing items at the officers. Polk Place was cleared in approximately 45 minutes. UNC Facilities cleared the area of significant debris after the protestors were dispersed.

According to the report sent to TLR, after the area was cleared the remaining protesters escalated their tactics, attempting to forcibly enter the South Building by pushing officers and refusing to comply with requests from Facilities and UNC Police.

At noon today UNC-Chapel Hill leaders issued this statement:

We were disappointed that we had to take action this morning regarding protesters, including many who are not members of the Carolina community, who violated state law and University policies that provide for peaceful demonstrations.

Into the weekend, our University maintained a healthy and constructive dialogue with students and others who came to our campus to make their voices heard. This is our consistent tradition and practice, as the principle of free speech is enshrined in the North Carolina Constitution, which states that “freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained.”

No one has the right to disrupt campus operations materially, nor to threaten or intimidate our students, nor to damage and destroy public property.

Previous protests this year have concluded peacefully and without arrests. Policies have been shared with the entire campus on multiple occasions and with protest organizers at events. At several points during this past weekend, we had constructive conversations with organizers that allowed for the group to continue their event and remain within our reasonable time, manner and place policies.

That changed Sunday evening when protestors backtracked their commitment to comply with these policies. The leaders of this group ended our attempts at constructive dialogue.

We must consider the physical safety of all of our students, faculty, and staff. In addition, we are alarmed at the rising accounts of antisemitic speech, and we categorically denounce this and any other incidents of prejudice. Community members who feel they have experienced conduct that goes beyond free speech and is discrimination or harassment based on protected status should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at reportandresponse@unc.edu. 

The Class of 2024 had both their senior year of high school and their first year at Carolina severely disrupted by the pandemic. We want to reassure the Class of 2024 that Commencement will be a joyous day for them and their loved ones and that the Carolina community near and far will celebrate their accomplishments.

We are grateful to the vast, law-abiding majority of our community as we conclude Carolina’s 229th academic year. We deeply appreciate the efforts of our facilities workers, UNC Police, the campus police of other UNC System universities, the State Highway Patrol and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in keeping our community safe.

An important footnote: Chapel Hill and Carrboro Police Departments do not respond to UNC campus incidents as standard procedure.

TLR will provide updates to this story as events occur.

Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 
This reporter can be reached at Info@TheLocalReporter.press

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2 Comments on "UNC pro-Palestinian protestors detained and 6 reported arrested — UNC leaders speak out"

  1. This is one sided view and does not represent what acctually happened.
    You failed to present the students’s side of what happened.

    • Local Reporter | May 6, 2024 at 10:19 am | Reply

      that is why I have a student UNC writer working on a story for their point of view… we only get the UNC media information. Not an attempt to be one-sided. Thank you.
      Michelle Cassell

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