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Virginia Tech detains pro-Palestine demonstrators



Blacksburg, Virginia – Sunday night, Virginia Tech Police began ejecting demonstrators from an on-campus demonstration, citing their trespassing.

Around 10:15 p.m., police arrived and gave the demonstrators a warning, giving them five minutes to leave. When demonstrators persisted, police started putting zip ties on them and dragging them away.

The university removed a number of students from the protest late on Sunday after using social media to warn the public to stay away from the Graduate Life Center location where police had been observing the demonstration.

As each protester was evacuated, other demonstrators could be heard screaming at the police, “Let him go!” and “Shame on you!” According to witnesses, the protest has not been violent.
Police began holding protestors about 10 p.m. on Sunday after issuing multiple warnings, threatening to arrest them if they didn’t leave.

The university released the following statement Sunday night:
On Friday morning, protestors began to occupy the lawn of the Graduate Life Center. Virginia Tech officials informed the protestors that the gathering was in violation of University Policy 5000 (University Facilities Usage and Events). Virginia Tech values free speech and the protestors’ right to be heard, but only if the rights of others and public safety can be assured.
Through constant dialogue between university officials, the Virginia Tech Police Department, and protest organizers, we were able to maintain a safe and peaceful environment through much of the weekend.

As Sunday progressed, protestors continued to refuse to comply with policy and took further steps to occupy the lawn of the Graduate Life Center and outdoor spaces next to Squires Student Center. Given these actions by protesters, the university recognized that the situation had the increasing potential to become unsafe.

Those who gathered were advised by university officials to remove their possessions and to disperse voluntarily; those who failed to comply were then approached by Virginia Tech Police and were again asked to leave and advised that anyone who failed to comply would be charged with trespassing, in accordance with Virginia law.

At approximately 10:15 p.m., police approached protesters to ask them to disperse within five minutes. Those who remained were subject to arrest.

In the interest of public safety, the university issued a VT Alerts at approximately 10:15 p.m. asking members of the community to avoid the area.

For the safety and welfare of all students, faculty and staff, Virginia Tech requires that all members of its community comply with all university policies and the Code of Virginia.

The students, numbering what appeared to be more than a thousand as of late Sunday night, according to WDBJ reporters at the scene, started gathering Friday to protest the loss of Palestinian and civilian lives during the war in Gaza.

Earlier Sunday evening, apparent protest leaders met with Virginia Tech and VT Police representatives. It was unclear what was said, according to WDBJ7 reporters, but the conversation ended in a handshake and a chorus of cheers by protestors as campus leaders walked away.

Student protestors have three demands: divest, condemn, and acknowledge.

Students say they want the university to be more transparent on endowments, funding given to non-profits. Since the university is not required to disclose from whom it receives funding, students want to know if the university is receiving funds from companies promoting the war in Gaza.


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