Police Arrest Dozens Protesting for Gaza at Art Institute of Chicago

Dozens of demonstrators participating in a Gaza solidarity encampment at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) were arrested for trespassing over the weekend. Led by students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and other local advocacy groups, the action was held in the museum’s North Garden, beginning at approximately 11am on Saturday, May 4, and lasting until 4:50pm, when police ultimately dismantled the encampment and arrested demonstrators.

Videos posted to social media show police officers in riot gear handcuffing demonstrators while other photos appear to show Special Weapons And Tactics officers pinning protesters down on the ground.

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) declined to comment, redirecting Hyperallergic to submit a Freedom of Information Act request for any details on the arrests. A CPD spokesperson told the New York Times that 68 people were arrested and charged with trespassing. 

The demonstrators symbolically renamed AIC “The People’s Art Institute” and the museum’s North Garden “Hind’s Garden,” a tribute to six-year-old Hind Rajab, who was killed alongside her family by Israeli forces in Gaza. Earlier last week, Columbia University activists occupied the school’s Hamilton Hall building and renamed it “Hind’s Hall” before police entered the building, swept the encampment, and arrested over 100 people at the New York campus.

In response to Hyperallergic‘s request for comment, an AIC spokesperson alleged that “protesters surrounded and shoved a security officer and stole their keys to the museum, blocked emergency exits, and barricaded gates.”

“Because our priority is the safety of our employees, our visitors, and our collection, protesters were offered an alternative location to continue their protest on campus that would be safer for all involved, and they did not accept that relocation offer,” the representative added, claiming that although SAIC student activists were “promised amnesty from academic sanction and trespassing charges if they agreed to relocate,” an agreement could not be reached after five hours of negotiations between the museum and protesters.

The school also said that it agreed to meet with students to discuss their demands, which include that SAIC and the museum publicly disclose their funding and investments and divest from all entities and individuals connected to financial support of Israel and its occupation of Palestine. These allegedly include the philanthropy organization the Crown Foundation, whose international giving focuses primarily on Israel, and weapons manufacturer General Dynamics.

“Our encampment is an act of resistance against apathy and complacency toward global oppression and western imperialism,” reads a statement from @thepeoplesartinstitute on Instagram.

The SAIC encampment was led by members of the school’s Students for Palestinian Liberation group alongside other organizations, including Palestine Action US and Dissenters, according to social media. The site was erected at the tail end of a busy week of student protests against Israel’s attacks on the Gaza strip, which have been met with hundreds of arrests in academic institutions across the country including the New School; New York University; City College of New York; University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Virginia; and the University of Michigan, among others. 

A solidarity encampment has also been established at the University of Chicago, where protesting students have refused to leave the campus’ central quad for over a week.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top