Live coverage: Students supporting Palestine hold encampment at Alma Mater

An attendee is taken into custody by UIPD during a Palestine encampment in front of Alma Mater on Friday morning.
An attendee is taken into custody by UIPD during a Palestine encampment in front of Alma Mater on Friday morning.
Alyssa Shih
UPDATE: April 26, 11:44 p.m.

An email sent out to participants by the Christie Clinic Illinois Race Weekend Race Operations Center stated “At 11:30 p.m., on Apr. 26, we are completely elated to report that ALL Saturday events — our 10K, half marathon and full marathon — ARE ON!”

“After remarkable steps spearheaded by Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois State Police in conjunction with the Cities of Champaign and Urbana, we were able to pull together the law enforcement staff needed for us to hold a safe and secure event,” the email read.

The center announced it will be holding a press conference in the coming days that will address the events that took place to keep the races ongoing.


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Protesters stand huddled under umbrellas on Friday night.
UPDATE: April 26, 10:49 p.m.

The protesters have dispersed for the night and are planning to resume their protests at 7 a.m. on Saturday at Spurlock Museum.

“This is a win for us,” a protester said to the crowd. “We are stronger than that.” 

The rain remains strong as the crowd lessens. Police are still in the area.


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Protesters stand huddled under umbrellas on Friday night.
UPDATE: April 26, 9:23 p.m.
Catered food from Jimmy Johns is brought to the encampment. (James Hoeck)

An update regarding the Illinois Marathon has been postponed to 5 a.m. Saturday morning. The decision was expected at 9 p.m. tonight.

“As of 9 p.m. on Apr. 26, key variables that would determine our decision about tomorrow’s races have not changed. Law enforcement is still focused on the demonstration on campus,” an email from the Christie Clinic Illinois Weekend Race Operations Center said.


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UPDATE: April 26, 9:12 p.m.
A fire truck fills up with water from a nearby fire hydrant. (Alyssa Shih)

Students representing the protestors who met with Associate Vice Chancellor Hintz were unable to reach a compromise.

A fire truck was seen filling up from a hydrant on Green Street.


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UPDATE: April 26, 9:01 p.m.
Protesters continue to stand in support despite the inclement weather. (James Hoeck)

The individual arrested this morning was identified as George Vassilatos. According to Champaign County jail records, Vassilatos was arrested for mob action, trespassing, and resisting a police officer.


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UPDATE: April 26, 8:40 p.m.

Police have chained the doors to the Illini Union closed. 

An individual identified as Christopher Zelle has been arrested.

Police arrest the second individual of the event, Christopher Zelle.

Medical tables have been set up near the protestors.

A medic table is set up near the camp with resources including bottled water and gauze.


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A CU police officer brandishes his nightstick while attempting to breach the circle of protesters to remove tents during the encampment protest next to the Alma Mater.
A CU police officer brandishes his nightstick while attempting to breach the circle of protesters to remove tents during the encampment protest next to the Alma Mater. (Isaac Pinkus)
UPDATE: April 26, 8:08 p.m.

At 8:08 p.m. Chancellor Robert Jones released a Massmail to the University community.

The statement described the situation throughout the day and explained that officers made the decision to “deescalate the situation and stepped back to reduce the risk of injury to themselves or the demonstrators.”

According to the statement, “Those who do not comply with our orders to leave will be subject to consequences, including arrest, when criminal laws are violated, and the possibility of immediate interim suspension for students.”


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UPDATE: April 26, 7:09 p.m.

Domino’s Pizza has been delivered to the protesters.


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UPDATE: April 26, 7:04 p.m.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success, Inclusion, and Belonging Jim Hitnz is currently in negotiations with a group of protestors at the base of Alma Mater.

Hintz is allegedly trying to move the protest inside of the Union, and protestors are insisting that no police may be present.


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UPDATE: April 26, 6:40 p.m.
Police officers block off Green Street east of Wright Street. (Candice Zhou)

Barricades on Wright and Green streets are currently blocking all incoming traffic.

UIPD released a statement on Facebook approximately 20 minutes ago, saying that University staff is prepared to remove all tents, which are considered contraband.

“We respect the rights of freedom of speech and expression and remain committed to providing a safe environment for all members of our community,” the statement read. “However, the university does not allow camping tents to be set up on campus property.”

The statement further outlines consequences for those interfering with the actions of UIPD.

“Anyone who interferes with that removal is subject to consequences, including arrest when criminal laws are violated,” the statement said. “For university students, immediate interim suspension from the university is also a possible outcome. These measures are in place to maintain the physical safety of our campus and so that all campus community members can continue to benefit from the academic experience we are here to provide.”


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UPDATE: April 26, 6:15 p.m.
SJP members and Vice Chancellor Jim Hintz discuss terms for a negotiation to find a peaceful solution. (Anh-khoi Pham)

According to police at the scene of the demonstration, everyone inside the Union must leave the premises by 6:15 p.m.

Police are closing all windows of the Union, so onlookers are not currently able to see inside.


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UPDATE: April 26, 6:05 p.m.

According to a statement from Meg Treat, PR director for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, all Saturday race events are still set to take place.

“At this time, our Saturday events are set to continue forward as planned,” Treat said. “We anticipate reaching out to runners in tomorrow’s races at 9 p.m. this evening with an update.”


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UPDATE: April 26, 5:56 p.m.

DI: Why are you here? What are you guys doing? What kind of message are you trying to send?

Dua Aldasouqi: So I’m here with the C-U Muslim Action Committee. We’re a new organization in town. We are a group dedicated to supporting Palestinian rights and self-determination as well as other issues relevant to the Muslim community, and right now this is all of that. We’re out here to support our students. We’re out here to support what they’re doing as they are representing and bringing attention to Gaza and to the genocide that’s occurring right now by literally putting their bodies on the line. So we’re just out here in support.

DI: And how are you guys feeling? I know this has been an intense day. The cops have been very intense.

Aldasouqi: I was here this morning too when the cops were here. They came in, they took down those tents. These kids are not leaving. I apologize, these young adults are not leaving. They are here to stay as we’ve heard them chant so many times, and they are, you know, they’re just here for a conversation. They’ve been trying to get a hold of administration here since October, and administration has been basically dodging at every opportunity. They are not sitting down for a real conversation about this, and so the students feel like they have no other choice at this point than to put their bodies on the line like they are doing.

In terms of how I’m feeling — this is new to me, new to our generation. This is not new to America. People protest on campuses. This is what we saw in the Vietnam War and before that. But for us, I think for a lot of us now, it’s our first time witnessing this. It is incredibly eye-opening to see what universities are willing to do to their students. The police right now have either pepper spray or tear gas in their hands. They are gearing up in riot gear, and you know, I understand that the University is saying the problem here is the tent, the structures, but the extent that they’re going to silence these students who feel they have no other choice is something that’s really difficult to witness.

DI: Do you know how much longer you guys are gonna stay out here? Are you going to stay here into the night? Do you know at all when you’re planning on ending or anything like that?

Aldasouqi: Me specifically or the whole group?

DI: Just if you know.

Aldasouqi: I think the students are gonna be here until divestment. That’s the demand they’re making. That’s what they’re telling everybody, and that’s how long we’re going to stand with them.


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UPDATE: April 26, 5:43 p.m.

The Daily Illini: What are your thoughts on everything going on?

Karan Madaiah, junior in FAA: I think that this is the remnants of a bygone era of protest, the remnants of an era where people stood up and listened to the youth. You know, we lived in a time, the 60s, the 70s, even where we knew that the youth were most in tune with the times. I know that I’m not going to be the youth someday and I’m going to have to listen in. I know that someday I will be an old man and I will have to listen in. It’s their time to listen. It’s our time to speak.


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UPDATE: April 26, 5:25 p.m.

Barbara Robbins, assistant chief of UIPD, announced that the Illinois 5k scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight has been canceled.


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UPDATE: April 26, 5:24 p.m.

Illinois Student Representative for LAS, Ethan Lopez: I’ve been focusing a lot on the deal with these protests just in case because I’m not here to take sides or to advocate. My job is to make sure that students get the support they need regardless of their background and to make sure that no one gets hurt.

I’ve been out here for a lot of the afternoon just making sure it does not devolve because the last thing we need is to have our Jewish community (or) Palestinian community hurt. It’s certainly a demonstration. But, you know, I’ve been meaning to sit down and try to understand how can the student government better help our Palestinian community, our Jewish community, make sure that the students feel comfortable in this university (and) have the support they need.

DI: Have these organizations reached out to you personally or the government, in general, to ask for advice or tips?

Lopez: Not yet, but we’re reaching out to them. At least, I know I am on a personal level and (on) a professional level as the chairman of this committee. I can’t speak to anyone else in the government, but I would not be surprised if they would. It’s a tough situation and, you know, we need the voices, we need the perspective. We can advocate for what they need.

DI: Have you, as far as today, had any updates with any people that you’ve been in contact with that you can talk more about?

Lopez: Not really, I’ve been following this since early morning when it started. I’ve been kind of coming back and forth between here and (the) Union just to try to see what’s going on. My main concern is, with these, there’s often the fear that it may become anti-Semitic and, obviously, you can’t accept that, (it) is never acceptable.

(We are) ensuring that we can find ways to support our communities that they (are) talking about. More specific ways, more than just generally like, supporting, maybe, specific programs or plans that the government has been involved with. I’m not aware of any specific plans at this time. The new session just got sworn in. I’m about two weeks into the job. So we’re still working it out, but I would be very surprised if we didn’t have anything out eventually to remedy any issues that may arise.

DI: Would you happen to know (the) motivations behind the protests that we have today? Especially regarding the encampments? Why are they so focused on setting up camps?

Lopez: I would not be able to speak to that. I’m not a part of the organization, I’m not affiliated with the organization that set this up. I don’t even know who it is. My impression is that they’re following the example of Columbia and NYU and other related universities around the country. I’m hearing a lot about divestment. I’m hearing a lot about transparency and stuff like that. And so my impression is they’re doing it to get a response from the University. But beyond that, I don’t have anything.


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Update: April 26 at 5:20 p.m.

At the encampment, The Daily Illini interviewed Jaden Andrews, senior in Media and member of Zeta Beta Tau, a Jewish-founded fraternity on campus. Andrews identifies as Jewish.

**This interview has been edited for clarity.**


The Daily Illini: Can you talk a little about why you’re here today?

Andrews: Their goal here is really to intimidate the people here.

I really believe thats why theyre congregating. This is really to scare off the Jews on campus and make them feel like theyre not welcome here. Im here alone. I dont care. Im Jewish, Im proud, and Im here to show that theyre not going to silence our voices just being here.

DI: How do you feel about all the protesting going on around campus?

Andrews: I mean, I think it’s absolutely appalling. Theres a reason that theyre doing it during the holiday of Passover. Protestors had one of their largest marches on one of the first nights of Passover, just like they did at Columbia University, where they literally bartered people into their homes and did not allow Jews to celebrate Passover in the way that they should, which is having Passover Seder.

So for us, I mean, this has happened for hundreds and thousands of years, and the Jews have always been tested. Were really here to show that were stronger than ever.

DI: Do you see any sort of, you know, collaboration between groups or any hope of, you know, resolving any issues on campus to make tensions easier?

Andrews: I mean, at this point, it seems like one group is a little more extreme than the other. In my opinion, I think open dialogue is the most important thing in any conflict. I think thats how anything gets solved. (It) is through finding a middle ground and having sort of an open discussion.

And Ive done that with students on campus, but theres people that are here screaming at police, screaming at students.

Ive already been here for three minutes and been called a Jew and screamed at and called derogatory terms. And so I dont feel like thats going to happen at this moment, but I would love for that to happen.

DI: Do you have anything else you want to say on the topic or anything you feel is important that I didnt mention?

Andrews: The main message is not to the opposition in this case, but really to Jews: Keep being yourself and keep being proud to be Jewish because our voices have been silenced for so long and I dont believe that we should let that happen.


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UPDATE: April 26, 5:15 p.m.

The Daily Illini: What is it looking like right now? How do you think this is going to end? What are your thoughts exactly?

Member of Young Democratic Socialists of America: I mean, obviously there’s a lot of police forces gathering, so we’re very worried about that, especially because we have heard they have pepper spray and are willing to be violent.

I mean, the entire point of us being here is not to get violent, that we don’t want to be violent and, you know, anything that is instigated will be instigated by them. So I think from standing here and watching what’s going on it’s scary to see, but it’s also very hopeful to see how everyone is rallying around.

DI: Did you expect this large of a crowd?

Anonymous: Actually, I honestly did not. I was also here for the 5 a.m. encampment, and it was a much smaller crowd obviously because it was very early. So seeing how many people have been able to attend this and who are so supportive has really been super surprising and really exciting.

DI: A number (is) written on your arm. What’s that?

Anonymous: It’s for a bail fund and jail assistant. So if you are to get arrested, we try and write this number on as many peoples’ arms as possible. So that in case of arrest, they have this to read off as their phone call to make.

DI: What is your role or what organization are you through?

Anonymous: I’m through Young Democratic Socialists of America. However, I know there’s so many different works here. So obviously, I don’t speak for all of them, but I’ve kind of been hands-on, on the scene, been here since five, been here until now kind of just throwing my assistance wherever I can. Mainly I’ve been recording to make sure that we have everything documented. Also, I’m not really able to get arrested. So I’ve just been kind of, you know, seeing where I can fill in, seeing what needs help leading chants, stuff like that.

DI: Do you see an end to this like today or do you guys intend to go (on) as long as possible?

Anonymous: We are definitely intending to go as long as possible, whether we are able to continue through today or whether we have to regroup and come back. It’s definitely a movement we’re planning on continuing, something that’s happening nationally. There are so many other schools that are participating in this and empowering each other to keep going.

DI: Have you all been in contact with the police department at all?

Anonymous: Not really. I mean, they’ve come to have conversations with us where they’ll say, “Oh, you need to take your things down” in some unreasonable way, like, 10 minutes. Obviously, a lot of the stuff in there is probably not stuff that can be taken down in 10 minutes. So it’s been hard to settle on compromises just because they’ve been very strict with their demands. We’re also trying to uphold arms.


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UPDATE: April 26, 5:11 p.m.

The Daily Illini spoke with the vice president of Illini Students Supporting Israel. 

DI: Could you give me your name and your affiliation?

Omer: My name is Omer, and I am currently a senior on campus in the Gies College of Business. I am vice president of Illini Students Supporting Israel, and I am an active member of the Jewish community both through Hillel and Chabad.

DI: Could you speak on why you are here today?

Omer: I’m here to see what’s happening. I heard there was an encampment this morning, and I was absolutely scared sh–less. I came here to check and see what was going on and I’ve been coming back in bits since to see what’s been happening and I heard there was a rally going to happen. So I wanted to come here and make sure that Jewish students were safe on this campus.

DI: That kind of segues into my next question. So you are vice president for Illini Students Supporting Israel. Could you speak a bit more about that organization, maybe reactions from Jewish students and also the campus community to this organization?

Omer: So I think I can speak on the Jewish community. I don’t want to speak for any other communities on campus, but I know that Jewish students are not only scared, we are terrified. We are horrified. They are currently chanting for all Zionists to leave and they have gone beyond targeting just Israel, as they so call themselves, and have started attacking and targeting Jewish students on this campus. I know that we’ve seen how this can get very out of hand at other campuses. We saw a Yale student get stabbed in the eye. We saw instances on other campuses where this has gotten violent and extreme, and as a leader, I thought it was important to come make sure that the rest of the Jewish community was safe. So I’m here to make sure this doesn’t get out of hand and that Jewish students can also feel safe here because (the) campus is also their home.

DI: What do you think can be done to both protect the safety of Jewish students, but also allow others to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest?

Omer: I 100% think that everyone has the right to protest and we’re not here to shut down this protest. I also believe in supporting the Palestinians and I believe in making sure that they get access to food and water because it’s not fair what’s happening to them. I think the way to go about it though is what’s important here. You cannot go about calling for genocide. They are here chanting for “Free Palestine from the river to the sea” which was recently passed in a bill in Congress that says that that is an antisemitic trope and that it calls for the genocide of Jews and it should not be used. It simply goes to show that they are anti-Jews. They’re not anti-Israel. It’s gone past that. They are not pro-Palestinian, they’re anti-Israel and anti-Jewish and it’s spread to a much larger problem.

I think it’s just important to make sure the way you do this. You’re not supposed to have tents like this when they had a permit to protest on Green Street. I’m happy that they had the ability to do that. They did it the right way. This is not that. They did not get the proper procedures to do this, and they did not do it properly. They are currently here preparing to wait out the police and have to fight with the police. If you’re in that type of situation, then you’re not in the right. You should be doing this legally. I think everyone has a right to protest, it’s just simply about doing it in the right way and not calling for the extermination of Jews. If you want to help Palestinians, say that. Advocate for that. Show ways that I can do that and I can help them.

Do not say that all Zionists should leave this campus and that all Zionists are not welcome here. Do not call for the extermination of Jews because that will not help the Palestinians. Do not call for the extermination of Jews because that will not help the Palestinians. A does not lead to B. If you’re going to chant here and if you’re going to protest, make it something useful. Make it something progressive and something that will actually lead to real progressive change.

Omer: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” They’ve chanted it multiple times today. It has been recorded in their own lives. They changed it at the protests that happened a couple of days ago on Wednesday as well. So it is a very well-known whistled trope.

DI: What has been done by the University or by the Chabad to protect the interests of Jewish students?

Omer: Starting with the University, they are trying to get involved and help us. They are trying to make sure that they’re able to still protest and use their First Amendment right while still keeping students safe. I know that this type of situation is really difficult for the University. I know that it’s hard to not take a side, not to take an extreme, and we see the hard work they do. I’ve met with many admin over my four years here talking about ways to better help Jewish students, and I know that they are really trying. Chabad and Hillel can only do so much. They are not student organizations, they are in organizations that are worldwide. They don’t have a specific affiliation here with campus, and as much as they try, the only thing they can really do is create a safe space for us. And it’s hard when we don’t really feel safe on campus.


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UPDATE: April 26, 4:51 p.m.

In the wake of the ongoing protests at the foot of Alma Mater, the Daily Illini sat down with Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel, Executive Director of the Chabad Campus for Jewish Living at the University.

Rabbi Tiechtel prefaced with the belief that today’s protest is rooted in antisemitism and is connected to misinformation surrounding the ongoing Israel-Hamas War.

“I believe this has nothing to do with Gaza,” Rabbi Tiechtel said. “It’s very unfortunate because this is about intimidation and trying to intimidate Jewish students.”

According to Rabbi Tiechtel, the teachings of Judaism do not support the celebration of ongoing violence.  

“I’m gonna make it very clear in Jewish thought,” Rabbi Tiechtel said. “It says when the enemy fails, you should not celebrate. No one in Jewish life is happy or excited to see any death by anybody. To say that Israel celebrates the killing of children is so antithetical to anything that Judaism stands for.”

Rabbi Tiechtel insisted that his main priority is the safety of all students on the University’s campus and that he wants to ensure the security of the campus community. 

“I have one thing right now that I care about, and that is student safety and security,” Rabbi Tiechtel said. “I care about everything else, but I can’t change the world today and tomorrow. I care about U of I and having students feel safe and secure.”

Rabbi Tiechtel said that the University administration and UIPD will not tolerate further protest.

“The administration and the police have not tolerated this and shouldn’t tolerate it, because this is a campus that everyone should feel welcome in,” Rabbi Tiechtel said.

“These agitators want to come in, but they should know that’s not the way it’s gonna work in Illinois,” Rabbi Tiechtel said. “I’m thankful that we have an administration that is very clear — we’re not here to shut down free speech, everyone should have a right to express what they want to say.”

Rabbi Tiechtel added that Jewish students should have the right to express their religious beliefs.

“I feel that U of I students have the right to be proud Jews,” Rabbi Tiechtel said. “When a Jew walks down the street and someone screams at them or comments ‘Free Palestine!’ or something like that, what is the connection to the Jew?”

Finally, Rabbi Tiechtel urged Jewish students to stand against possible backlash.

“They always say that anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism, but we know that anti-Zionism is antisemitism,” Rabbi Tiechtel said. “(Antisemitism) has always been around, and our best response is to stand tall and stand proud.”


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Police officers stand ready with riot gear and pepper spray.
UPDATE: April 26, 4:26 p.m.

Police officers are equipped with pepper spray and tasers.

UIPD Officers use force to enter the encampment as protesters link arms. (Anh-khoi Pham)
Police officers stand ready with riot gear and pepper spray. (Anh-khoi Pham)
University Police use physical force to break through the barrier toward the encampment.
University Police use physical force to break through the barrier toward the encampment. (Ahn-Khoi Pham)
UPDATE: April 26, 4:26 p.m.

Police broke through the barriers made by protesters. They began taking down tents.

Protestors told the group to separate in order to let police out of circle.

Facilities & Services loaded tents and tarps in University vehicles after removing them from the encampment.

Police have left after being unable to shut down the encampment.


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A flag of Palestine hangs from a tree on the north side of the demonstration.
UPDATE: April 26, 4:15 p.m.

The Daily Illini spoke with a student member of the University Chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. The student has elected not to be identified by name for safety concerns.

This has been edited for clarity. 

The Daily Illini: Can you guys talk about what you are doing here today?

Student member of SJP: Today we are showing our solidarity with the people of Gaza and the people of Palestine that had been occupied for the past 76 years. And we’re doing this through a solidarity cam. Yeah, so we call it the liberation zone.

DI: This morning, the police came to the encampments, could you talk about that?

Student: Yeah, we set up the camps at 5 a.m., and immediately we were met with a lot of pressure from the school and police to take it down. They were very unclear about the rules and regulations surrounding camp and putting up camps. And even when I tried to raise questions about it, I was immediately met with a short temper with anger. They were being extremely, extremely rude, and even when I tried to just to say I’m practicing my first amendment right, I was met with the response on behalf of a police saying that it is not my first amendment right to ask questions. Immediately after that they began getting violent with protesters. We are not being violent at all. 

We decided that we are not leaving because the school is complicit in the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people. And we will not allow that to happen. We’re not going to watch this go by. 

DI: Could you speak on that and what you guys plan to do if the police come in?

Student: Yeah, so the police have made it very firm and very clear that they do not want us to be doing this. I think that it shows just how much power we have and how much power we told our students. And our response to this is that we’re not leaving. We have three clear demands, the main one being divestment from scientists, weapon manufacturers and institutions, and we are not going anywhere until we are met with that demand. We are not leaving; they can take our tents. 

We’re coming back. They can arrest our people but we will just grow more. There is a meeting scheduled with the administration on Monday at 5 p.m.

So a different group of pro-Palestinian organizers here on campus, organized a protest or mass mobilization to pressure the school into meeting one of three demands, which was somewhat met on behalf of the school, through giving a meeting with the chancellor.

So that’s kind of unrelated to what we’re doing now. We’re more pressuring for divestment. That is more of a negotiation with administration on meeting the demands that they pressured, but we are in full support of them. Anyone that shows support for the Palestinian people is one of us. 


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A flag of Palestine hangs from a tree on the north side of the demonstration. (Candice Zhou)
UPDATE: April 26, 3:30 p.m.

Protestors reconvened around 2:30 p.m. to continue the protest next to the Alma Mater statue.

The protestors had tarps, provisions and rain gear as they prepared to set up tents. The group grew as time neared 3 p.m., with the radius of the encampment expanding significantly as more protestors arrived.

Around 3:05 p.m., one protestor led a prayer in Arabic, where practicing attendees could pray. They faced the Qibla direction while praying, the direction of the Kaaba.

At 3:16 p.m., protestors began setting up tents — both canopy and pop-up tents were erected.

UIPD is currently present on Wright Street.

UPDATE: April 26, 2:30 p.m.


Executive director of the Illini Hillel, Erez Cohen speaks at the CCHM exhibition, 2023. (Angel Saldivar)

The Daily Illini sat down with the Executive Director of Illini Hillel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to talk about the campus-wide tensions in regard to the ongoing conflicts in Gaza.

The Daily Illini: How do you feel about all the situations that are going on today on campus?

Erez Cohen: Well, things are very tense on campus right now. A lot of our students are very upset about what’s going on on campus starting with the protest on Wednesday during the holiday of Passover and all the way through the tents that were put up on the quad this morning. 

DI: What is Illini Hillel doing to help students or provide support for students on campus? 

Cohen: So, Hillel has always been here for students in times of need. Going back to the early 1920s when Jewish students were not accepted in social clubs, Hillel was the social outlet for Jewish Students and that hasn’t changed on Wednesday when there was the protest on Green Street. We were celebrating the holiday anyway here, so we opened our doors to Jewish students to come and be with us and we’re doing the same now. Students can come here to seek mental health support, rabbinical counseling, just to be with other Jewish students and basically find an outlet for what’s bothering them in this situation.

DI: Some of your students are on the quad tabling for the holidays. What sort of precautions are you taking when they are out there, especially during protests? 

Cohen: Well, we work with the students to make sure that they don’t engage with protesters and we work closely with the security forces in town to make sure that students are safe. But it is important to us that our students are showing their Jewish identity proudly without fear because this is their campus and they’re allowed to be here safely. We will continue to work to make sure that they can do that safely and proudly.


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**This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.**


Students stand near the encampment with the flag of Israel on Friday evening.
UPDATE: April 26, 12:54 p.m.

The Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Living announced on Instagram that the police department and University administration have given the protest group “a deadline to be off the quad.”

“I understand that this causes lots of worry and anxiety, again, nothing is guaranteed, but (UIPD and University administration) are on it,” the statement read.

Party for Socialism and Liberation Champaign-Urbana’s text newsletter later announced that the encampment would reconvene at the Alma Mater statue at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon.

“The University tried and failed to silence pro-Palestinian voices earlier today,” the statement read.

“We need as many people as possible out here for this to be a success,” the statement said.

PSL C-U will be providing ponchos to guard against the inclement weather.

Students stand near the encampment with the flag of Israel on Friday evening. (Candice Zhou)

**Many attendees, community members and organizers have elected not to be identified by name for safety reasons. Quotes published in this article were heard spoken at the event, with no attribution as a safety precaution.**


University students gathered between Alma Mater and the Illini Union on Friday morning to form an encampment as a part of their effort to call for the University to divest from weapons manufacturers for Israel. Protestors and organizers arrived at 5 a.m.

Student protesters link arms around their tents to prevent police from entering and taking them down. (Damini Rana)

“Admin admin you’re all cowards; students have all the power,” the group chanted.

Students came in facial masks and dressed for the weather. They stood in a circular formation surrounding the encampment, with a pile of resources including food, water, blankets and other camping gear.

The University took down the Alma Cam and the Quad Cam before 8:00 a.m.

“Disclose, divest. We will not stop; we will not rest,” the group chanted.

UIPD officers and a truck from University Facilities & Services were present throughout the beginning of the encampment.

A student group member was heard calling for protesting students to stay standing with their arms linked as officers began to converse with the students.

At 8:22 a.m., an officer was heard ordering the students to “make a lane” toward the encampment. Officers then resorted to physical force and dragging off one student as the group continued to chant, “Free, free Palestine.”

“He’s done nothing!” An attendee yelled at officers as they forcibly removed the student.

“Why are you pushing him? Why are you grabbing him?”

A student leader instructed the group to not pack up the camp as UIPD and Facilities & Services employees began tearing down the encampment. Students kept their arms linked and continued to form a tighter circle.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you do not separate, you will be subject to trespassing,” an officer called out as Facilities & Services continued to remove tents.

University police take hold of a protestor as they proceed to place the protestor under arrest. (Damini Rana)

“Alright, who wants to go — who wants to go to jail?” one officer was heard yelling at the student protesters.

Officers arrested one student at the event.

The protesters repeatedly called “Free, free Palestine” as officers and Facilities & Services members continued to remove banners and tents. Officers twisted protesters’ arms and used physical force to access the encampment.

“This is brutality,” a protester with a megaphone called out to the officers. “We have every right to be here! Every single right!”

Students began chants of “Whose campus? Our campus!” as officers removed the final structures within the encampment.

Officers and Facilities & Services staff members left the scene just after 8:30 a.m., leaving students in a tight-knit circle around the remainder of the resources. A student did a lap around the circle writing the Champaign County jail inmate support number on the arms of protestors as a precaution.

Police presence was completely gone from the scene at 8:41 a.m., with protesters breaking their circle to eat and rest shortly after.

As of 9:00 a.m., student protesters remained in a group eating food and drinking water by the Alma Mater statue. Two protestors mounted a banner reading “30,000 KILLED; 2 MIL STARVING; STOP $$$ WAR”


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About the Contributors
Candice Zhou
Candice Zhou, Assistant Photo Editor
Hey! My name is Candice Zhou, and I’m a junior majoring in accounting and finance. I joined The Daily Illini in spring 2022 as a photographer and am now the assistant photo editor. I love music and singing (I am currently in a band called Too Soon!). I also like traveling, watching movies, playing tennis, etc. Fun fact about me: I am a DJ! If you have any questions, feel free to email me!
Isaac Pinkus
Isaac Pinkus, Assistant Photo Editor
Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
My name is Angel Saldivar and I'm nearing the end of my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois and currently serve as the Assistant Photo Editor at the Daily Illini. When I'm not out taking photos, I'm diving into filmmaking with my film club (shoutout Illini Film and Video) or playing the drums. Got questions or just want to connect? Don't hesitate to email me!
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