Cleveland: After encampment, struggle continues


After 11 defiant days, students at Case Western Reserve University closed down  their Palestine Solidarity Encampment on May 9. Activists from the Palestinian community and the progressive movement assisted in a well-organized and disciplined take-down. Nevertheless, CWRU President Eric Kaler reiterated his threats that students who participated in the encampment could face discipline.

“All Out for Rafah” demonstration, Cleveland’s Wade Oval near student Palestine Solidarity Encampment, May 8, 2024. WW Photo: Martha Grevatt

When the encampment opened on April 29, 21 participants were detained in the morning but released without charge. Since then Kaler has repeatedly attempted to intimidate students and supporters. But emails accusing Palestine backers of illegal activity and posted signs reading “No trespassing, private property” and “No encampments” were ignored or defaced.

Now a number of students are facing academic discipline for participating in the encampment.

When students painted a pro-Palestine mural on the “Spirit Rock” — on which students have painted graffiti for years — on May 7, CWRU hired contractors to paint over it at 5:00 a.m. The contractors spray-painted the campers who defended the mural, which the contractors destroyed. CWRU’s suspension in March of the campus Students for Justice in Palestine chapter was for “gluing” leaflets in unauthorized locations, including the Spirit Rock.

On the last day of the encampment, students moved their protest to the university administration building, where they held a sit-in to demand CWRU divest from companies doing business with Israel. The day before, hundreds of people attended a nearby “All Out for Rafah” demonstration.

Encampment participants spoke during the public comment section at the Cuyahoga County Council meeting on May 14, where local activists pressed the Council to fully divest from Israeli apartheid.

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