Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 23, 2024

Palestine Solidarity Encampment at Hopkins — live updates

By The News-Letter | April 29, 2024

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COURTESY OF MAYA BRITTO

Hopkins students, affiliates and community members are establishing a Palestine Solidarity Encampment on the Beach. 

The News-Letter has been providing live coverage of the Palestine Solidarity Encampment. This is the coverage from April 29-30. For the latest thread of live updates, click here.

April 30, 2024 

11:31 p.m.

11:22 p.m.

According to a CBS News article, the BPD will not shut down the encampment unless it gets out of control.

“[The] City of Baltimore strongly stands with every person's First Amendment rights,” the police said to CBS. “Barring any credible threat of violence or similarly high threshold to protect general public safety, BPD currently has no plans to engage solely to shut down this valid protest or remove protestors.”

10:20 p.m.

Editor’s Note, 2024: This article has been updated to better represent the HJC’s concerns over police mobilization on April 30, 2024.

The News-Letter regrets this error. 

An organizer from HJC spoke to attendees about keeping themselves safe in the case of arrests.

“I’m gonna let you know what's going on and what you need to do to keep us safe because we keep us safe. We keep us safe,” they said. “Around 9:30 p.m., a drone encircl[ed] our encampment trying to identify us. We are demanding and asking, begging you to wear a mask to cover eyebrows, face, mouth, hair. Keep yourself safe. Do not compromise your identity.”

The speaker asked attendees to fill out an arrest form as a precaution, emphasizing that the provided information will be going to the Baltimore Action Legal Team (BALT), where it will be protected by attorney-client privilege.

Further, attendees were asked to write a BALT phone number on two different parts of their body to use as their one phone call in the case of arrest.

“Our information indicates that the BPD has made no mobilization for mass arrests, but we are here to keep you all safe,” they said.

A post on HJC’s Instagram conveys worries of future police action.

“We are concerned about BPD mobilization,” the post reads. “We call on all students, Hopkins affiliates, community members, and press to stand with us at the Palestine Solidarity Encampment (3400 N. Charles St) tonight to continue holding it down for Palestine!”

9:31 p.m.

A drone shining a bright light is circling the beach. Organizers have directed attendees not to look up. 

9:00 p.m.

The organizers continue to lead chants on the Beach to the more than 200 attendees. Here are a few of the chants:

  • “Long live the intifada!”
  • “JHU we see you, you invest in genocide too!”
  • “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
  • “From the sea to the river, Palestine will live forever!”
  • “There is only one solution: intifada revolution!”
  • “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!”
  • “Viva viva Palestina!”
  • “Whose campus? Our campus!”
  • “Resistance is justified where people are occupied!”

12:23 p.m.

HJC has made a press release claiming that the Palestine Solidarity Encampment never broke and is calling on the community to join the protest. 

“We have regrouped and re-strategized overnight and remain committed to our demands,” the press release said. “We are not leaving until our demands are met.”

HJC disputed the University’s claims that an agreement was reached and that negotiations lasted for hours.

In response to the University’s “health and safety concerns” regarding the encampment, HJC states that their negotiation team offered multiple concessions, including: offering to take down semi-permanent structures, respecting campus quiet hours and providing a written guarantee of nonviolence. HJC wrote that the University refused all concessions, and they threatened to call the BPD or impose academic sanctions if the encampments continued overnight. Organizers view these threats as a clear contradiction to the University’s stated concerns over the “health, safety and welfare” of students. 

According to the press release, the administration declined to clarify what these health and safety concerns were and did not elaborate on the legal grounds to call the BPD.  

“Members of the encampment held their ground and remained throughout the night despite the University’s threat. In the end, the police did not make an appearance,” the press release stated. “We are making this message clear: we are not going anywhere until our demands are met.”

10:38 a.m. — Open letter from faculty and staff

Hopkins faculty and staff released an open letter on academic freedom, which outlined their view that the University has a responsibility to support peaceful campus-wide protests and demonstrations. 

“The purpose of the university is to encourage open discussion and free expression of ideas,” the letter wrote.

The faculty and staff called on Hopkins administration — including Daniels and the University’s Board of Trustees — to respect their 2015 policy on academic freedom which aims to foster free expression and discourse in the most encompassing way.

“We call on you to continue to fulfill your responsibilities to defend peaceful protesters, uphold academic freedom, and reject any pressure to criminalize demonstrations,” the letter wrote. “In recent weeks, a number of universities have chosen to permit widespread protest, and have succeeded in keeping everyone safe.”

Those who wish to add their signature can do so here.

10:00 a.m. — University claims resolution to encampment, organizers say otherwise

Daniels and Provost Ray Jayawardhana sent a broadcast email to the Hopkins community at 8:39 a.m. announcing a resolution to the encampment on the Beach. 

Daniels and Jayawardhana, along with Vice President for Public Safety Branville Bard and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Rachelle Hernandez, met with representatives from groups organizing the encampment for several hours late last night. 

The email stated that members of University administration communicated their concerns about the health, safety and welfare of those involved in the protest. Additionally, they emphasized ways to protest that comply with University policy.

“Our conversations were frank and constructive, and we are pleased to report that we reached an agreement early this morning to support the students’ continuing protest,” the email stated.

According to this agreement, students will dismantle the tents and other structures erected on the Beach and will not assemble on campus between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.

“This will ensure our students’ safety and reduce the level of disruption to the university, particularly as we head into final exams and commencement ceremonies,” the email said. “We, in turn, agreed to support our students’ ability to return to a designated area on the Beach each day to continue their daytime protest activities as is permissible under university policy.”

The broadcast claims that, following the discussion between organizers and University administrators, students dismantled the tents and left the Beach.

However, just an hour prior, a joint Instagram post by five organizations, including HJC and Students for Justice in Palestine at Johns Hopkins University, announced that the encampments were not dismantled and called for community members to show up to the Homewood Campus.

“The encampment never broke — it has been continuously going since yesterday afternoon, held overnight by a small brave team, and they need backup!” the post read.

1:14 a.m.

Many protestors are packing up and leaving for the night.

12:38 a.m.

Most administrators and cars have left the Beach.

12:31 a.m.

The meeting between Daniels and the organizers has ended. The organizers have returned to the Beach.

April 29, 2024 

11:32 p.m.

A BPD helicopter circled the Beach multiple times.

11:02 p.m.

A BPD helicopter circled the Beach twice.

10:44 p.m.

President Ronald Daniels came to the Beach and spoke to organizers. Daniels and the organizers walked away to talk privately.

9:58 p.m.

A BPD helicopter circled multiple times around the Beach.

9:16 p.m.

A protestor waving the Palestinian flag on the Hopkins sign.

8:35 p.m.

A BPD car circulated near the Beach.

8:26 p.m.

Editor’s Note, 2024: This article has been updated to correctly cite the names of the weapons manufacturers.

The News-Letter regrets this error.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Joel Andreas, professor & director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Sociology, explained his motivation for attending the protest.

“I'm here because I'm very concerned about what's happening in Gaza. It's a horrendous, genocidal war where thousands of Palestinians have already died,” he said. “We have to do what we can to try to stop this war.”

Andreas believes that the Hopkins community is well-positioned to help stop the war in Gaza, due to the University’s involvement in it.

”Hopkins does more than [invest in Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin]. It is actually deeply involved through the Applied Physics Laboratory,” he said. “They've been talking about doing research that's in collaboration with the military and in collaboration with these companies. It does research, for instance, on swarming drones which are used in Israel to kill Palestinians.”

7:58 p.m.

A BPD helicopter circled multiple times around the Beach.

7:30 p.m.

Two administrators came out, and organizers went with them to the top of the Beach to talk. 

7:25 p.m.

A member of the University administration came down the Beach and spoke to the protesters. Protestors responded with the chant “Disclose, divest, we will not leave, we will not rest.”

7:20 p.m.

A Baltimore Police Department (BPD) helicopter flew overhead the Beach in a circle. 

In an interview with The News-Letter, Sarah — an organizer and Hopkins student using a pseudonym — shared the goals of the demonstration.  

“We are here today with the [Johns Hopkins] Palestine solidarity encampment, which we have set up to demand that the University cut all of its financial and academic ties and participation in the ongoing genocide in Palestine,” they said. “We're also here in solidarity with students around the country that have been demanding more of their educational institutions.”

On behalf of the entire encampment, Sarah emphasized that the encampment has been largely organized by undergraduate students; however, graduate students as well as members of the Baltimore community have been involved in various aspects.    

They also explained that the movement has drawn inspiration from previous moments to divest, including divestments from coal and tobacco, as well as from the apartheid regime in South Africa

“Students in our encampment have said that [Hopkins] feels like an apolitical campus, and we're here to prove that that's not true,” they said. “We all inherit a political legacy from the students who came before us, and we’re here to recognize the long history of activism that has actually been at Hopkins but has too often been underreported.”

However, protesters were not the only ones present at the Beach. A small group of Israel supporters stood behind the mass of students chanting for Palestinian liberation. One of these supporters present — Bailey Pasternak, a junior majoring in International Studies — discussed his disagreement with the protesters in an interview with The News-Letter.

“The Jewish right to self-determination in their own land is something that should be guaranteed as a universal basic right, and it’s being threatened by people that chant these kinds of things,” he said.

Though he supports a peaceful end to this conflict, Pasternak disagrees with the plan pursued by Palestinian allies, as he believes it may allow a terrorist organization to prosper. 

“If the terms of ending violence are letting [terrorist] organizations survive and continue to wreak havoc on the Israeli psyche and on Israeli lives, that’s not the right way to end fighting,” he said. “The real ending of fighting involves the demilitarization of Hamas and the transformation of Gaza into part of a Palestinian state that is a true partner for peace in the Middle East.” 

Pasternak went on to say that although participating students have not done anything dangerous through protesting, social media has been a place where he has witnessed antisemitism. 

“As annoying and distressing it is to see this kind of stuff being done, it seems like [the protesters] are not crossing any boundaries in the sense of threatening the safety of the people present. All of that happens on social media — Sidechat in particular,” he said. “There are tons of antisemitic messages and posts being put there. Here, it is not as obvious or concerning. I find it deeply distressing and problematic and wrong, but as far as what they are doing today, it should be allowed.” 

5:36 p.m.

Hopkins Public Safety passed out a document regarding prohibited behaviors to protesters. 

The document included examples of prohibited behavior, such as “assembling tents, encampments, and/or temporary structures without prior approval, which present significant public health and safety risks.” In addition, the document stated that if Hopkins affiliates violate university policies, they can be subject to sanctions including expulsion, citation for trespassing and legal action. Non-Hopkins affiliates will be subject to citation for trespassing and legal action and could be prohibited from Hopkins properties.  

Organizers responded via microphone that they are not leaving. 

In an interview with The News-Letter, Bob Seidel, a Hopkins alum and former staff and faculty member, shared his perspective on the importance of attending the event and how the movement can achieve its demands.

“I want to say to the people who are here that I think it’s very important. We are a few 100 people out here on the Beach, but we know that there are demonstrations going on all across the U.S.,” he said. “The success of movements like the anti-apartheid movement tell us that we can win. But we have to stay together. We can’t let them divide us.”

5:23 p.m.

Organizers officially announced that they will be forming an encampment.

5:15 p.m.

Hundreds of Hopkins students, affiliates and community members organized on the Beach for the HJC’s Palestine Solidarity Encampment and Study Strike. 

Following remarks and chants led by organizers, attendees dispersed to create signs. Attendees were also encouraged to share their thoughts or perspectives with the crowd in the Open Mic session. 

4:00 p.m.

Hopkins students and affiliates have established a "Palestine Solidarity Encampment" on the Homewood Campus to protest the University's financial and academic contributions to what they describe as the ongoing Palestinian genocide. 

The student group Hopkins Justice Collective (HJC) has issued a series of demands, including University divestment from companies they claim are contributing to the violence in Gaza. Among the companies listed are Blackrock, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Google. 

The group also called for the disclosure of the University's investments and complicity in alleged war crimes, as well as a boycott of Israeli universities. Specifically, they demand that Hopkins provide a detailed list of its financial ties to Israel and cease its partnership with Tel Aviv University, which currently hosts  summer programs and cooperative degree programs.

The next demand is for the demilitarization of Hopkins and highlights the significant funding the Applied Physics Lab (APL) receives from the US Department of Defense, which is used in part for weapons development. HJC argues that the development of weapons by the APL contributes to violence against Palestinians. The demands are part of a broader movement to pressure the University into greater transparency in its investments and partnerships.

Finally, HJC called for Hopkins to denounce the violence in Gaza as well as condemn the repression of pro-Palestinian movements and speech at colleges across the country. 

“Johns Hopkins will publicly acknowledge the current genocide and ongoing occupation of Palestine since 1948,” the press release wrote. 

HJC drew historical parallels to previous successful divestment movements at Hopkins, including mobilization against the South African apartheid in the 1980s and against thermal coal producers in 2017, emphasizing the potential for change through sustained student activism.


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