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

Palestine Solidarity Encampment at Hopkins continued — live updates

By The News-Letter | May 1, 2024

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THE NEWS-LETTER

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

The News-Letter has been providing live coverage of the Palestine Solidarity Encampment. This is a continued live update thread beginning on May 1, 2024 and ending on May 3. For the previous thread of live updates, click here. For the latest thread of live updates, click here.

May 3, 2024

10:22 p.m. HJC ready to meet with the University

On May 3 at 9:22 p.m, HJC released a statement reiterating their demands and stating that they are willing to meet with the University on Tuesday, May 7 at 3 p.m. 

“Our encampment is ready to approach the table with the University this Tuesday, May 7, 2024 at 3PM,” they wrote. “We anticipate university may escalate its pressure and threaten us with academic sanctions and arrest between now and the proposed meeting date.”

In an email to The News-Letter, HJC clarified that they are still awaiting a response from the University regarding the proposed meeting. 

6:10 p.m.

Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate Bob McLean announced a temporary change to Homewood Campus buildings.

“Due to the ongoing protest at the Beach, Homewood campus buildings have temporarily shifted to JCard swipe access-only,” he wrote.

He added that visiting students and faculty should be escorted by their sponsoring departments. For on-campus events, event coordinators should monitor entrances to provide access to authorized non-affiliates.

4:58 p.m. HJC responds to Daniels, criticizes reduction of protesters’ actions and continues to insist on divestment demands

On May 3rd at 2 p.m., HJC released a response to President Daniels’ email sent on Wednesday which called for an end to the encampment. The statement argued that Daniels did not accurately represent the goal of the Palestine Solidarity Encampment and that the email is a distraction from HJC’s demands for divestment.

“The email, which appeared to be a thoughtful consideration of both sides is, upon analysis, deliberately crafted to misrepresent the Palestine Solidarity Encampment and imply that future reactionary violence by police and counter-protestors can be rightfully blamed on those who peacefully protest,” HJC wrote.

The statement added that the HJC submitted a proposal for divestment to the Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee (PIIAC) which manages requests pertaining to the University’s investments. HJC argued that the University’s impact on students and the broader Baltimore community blurs the distinction between affiliates and non-affiliates, and they criticized Daniels’ distinction between the two. 

“We are together because we do not want our tuition money funding genocide in Palestine, just as we do not want it funding the destruction of Baltimorean neighborhoods, the policing of Black and brown bodies, and the exclusion of local voices from the decision-making process,” they wrote.

HJC then asserted that the masks — required by everyone taking part in the encampment and mentioned by Daniels in his email as a safety concern for the Hopkins community — are a means of protecting the community from COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. 

The organization confirmed that the masks are also useful in concealing students’ identities, and that masking is necessary as a result of threats from the administration regarding academic and legal sanctions. 

“We have no reason to believe we are safe to reveal our faces,” they wrote. “Many of our students depend on financial aid, free counseling center services, housing, meal plans, and other basic needs that would be lost if Johns Hopkins University were to impose unjust academic and legal sanctions.”

In response to Daniels’ highlighting of previous violence at Hopkins protests as an example of the risks associated with demonstrations like the encampment, HJC stated that past incidents of “violent action” would not dissuade them from exercising their right to free expression. 

HJC also pointed out that the actions of student protesters in the past were successful in effecting change.

“We are just as committed to nonviolence as the students who came before us, whose protests were a critical juncture to the fall of the South African apartheid regime,” they wrote. 

HJC emphasized the importance organizers place on the physical and mental well-being of all those participating, highlighting their programming of activities like yoga and art, and the presence of de-escalators and medical care at the encampment. 

According to HJC, violence at other universities holding peaceful demonstrations for Palestine is due to violent responses from counter-protesters. However, they do not believe that they must put an end to their movement just “because bad actors from outside the movement might intend” to cause harm. 

“The University can ensure our safety by meeting our demands for disclosure, divestment, boycott, demilitarization, and denunciation,” they wrote. 

In the statement, HJC also dismissed Daniels’ claims of a lack of meaningful conversation involving members of the encampment, claiming that the protesters are far from a monolith and that Daniels should join the protests for a day to see the “long hours” encampment participants spend discussing differences between them. 

HJC included that they have let pro-Israel demonstrators share space on the Beach before, but they prefer that these protestors demonstrate elsewhere in order to prevent escalations and disruptions. 

HJC included that tonight, encampment participants will celebrate Shabbat with Rabbi Ariana Katz and stated that all faiths are welcome at the encampment. HJC criticized Daniels for reducing their storytelling and poetry to shouting and slogans in his letter. They also assert that they have done their due diligence when it comes to research, as it was necessary for their PIIAC proposal. 

HJC concluded their press release by stating that they are still open to communications with the University going forward. The encampment will continue. 

“We cannot wait any longer to cut ties with a genocidal regime,” they wrote. 

May 2, 2024

9:00 p.m.

8:45 p.m.

The organizers continue to lead chants on the Beach to at least 100 attendees. Here are a few of the chants:

  • “BPD, KKK, IDF, you’re all the same!”
  • “End the occupation now!”
  • “We want justice, you say how? End the occupation now!”
  • “Long live Palestine!”
  • “Long live Gaza!”
  • “Let Gaza live!”
  • “From the belly of the beast, hands off the Middle East!”
  • “The people united will never be defeated!”
  • “No justice, no peace, no Zionist police!”

8:14 p.m. President Daniels releases University message to HJC members, calls for an end to the encampment

On Wednesday evening, University President Ronald J. Daniels sent a broadcast email to the Hopkins community, in which he shared a message addressed to HJC members and student protestors. Daniels wrote that he chose to speak directly to the protestors to reassert the need for an end to the encampment in the interest of adhering to University policies and codes.

The letter began by thanking encampment organizers for their willingness to speak with him on Monday evening, during which they expressed their desire to continue the protest free of violence, injury or antisemitic expression. 

He recognized the encampment’s desire to bring awareness to lives of Palestinians but wrote that it jeopardizes campus safety. 

“By walling off a significant portion of the Beach for a dense cluster of tents, you block visibility and increase the risk of violence and/or injury to you or others at the university,” he wrote. 

Daniels added that inviting anyone to participate in the protest, regardless of their affiliation to Hopkins, and in addition, encouraging that everyone remain masked to protect protestors’ identities, also threatens the safety of Hopkins community members. 

“Because of your insistence that everyone in the encampment always remain masked, the identity of these people, their motivations, and their respect for our diverse community and the spaces in which we learn and dwell cannot be known to you or to the people with the responsibility to protect you,” he wrote. 

He described how encampments at other universities have escalated into violent conflicts and hateful altercations between protestors and anti-protesters, pointing out that the Hopkins administration has already received reports of physical assault and hate speech. Daniels cited examples of injury due to protest on the Homewood Campus, namely during anti-apartheid protests in the 1980s and the Garland Hall occupation in 2019.

In addition to safety concerns, Daniels claimed that the encampment does not align with the core values of the University.

“An encampment of this nature cannot help but reduce the capacity of those within it to see the common humanity of those who are outside its perimeter,” he wrote. “Instead of recognizing and drawing strength from our diversity, we veer to a community of rigid solitudes, a community defined by suspicion, distrust, and, in the extreme, hatred. Along the way, our common humanity is lost.”

The president urged the protestors to end the encampment and wrote that he and the University remain open to discussion toward a peaceful resolution and will continue to protect the safety of all Hopkins community members. 

He concluded by highlighting the consequences of prolonging the encampment.

“In the meantime, we will take additional steps as necessary to protect the safety of the community, including moving forward with appropriate disciplinary and legal actions,” he wrote.

7:01 p.m. University spokesperson statement

In an email to The News-Letter, a University spokesperson responded to the allegation made by Mudrik and shared the steps the University has taken. 

“Violence is unacceptable and taken seriously, and the report is under investigation,“ they said. “At present, the university is taking all measures within our control to manage the situation, including student conduct proceedings, which are underway. We are in contact with all relevant authorities to ensure the health and safety of our students and the entire campus community.”

4:34 p.m. Hopkins Justice Collective responds to allegations of antisemitism 

Yesterday, a thread posted by PhD candidate Noga Mudrik on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, accused a protester at the Palestine Solidarity Encampment of assaulting her.

“I just came home from campus after being hit by a girl holding a Palestinian flag, right at the campus entrance,” she wrote. “She shouted at me to go back to Europe and hurled insults at me and Israelis.”

In an email to The News-Letter, HJC denied these allegations, describing them as baseless. They referenced cameras stationed around the Beach, encouraging the University to send them any footage it possesses of the alleged altercation. The collective claimed that they have directed participants not to engage with those against the encampment.

Additionally, HJC asserted that their demonstration is not against Israeli people.

“Our struggle is not against individual Israelis,” they wrote. “It is against the state and the political ideology that privileges Israeli lives over Palestinian ones. It is against the genocidal war on Gaza, the vicious settler and state attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, and the decades of theft of Palestinian land.”

HJC described the counter-protesters seen on the Beach, claiming that they have tried to instigate arguments with those at the encampment.

“Some have held Israeli flags, a flag that, for Palestinians, symbolizes ethnic cleansing, militarism, and apartheid,” HJC wrote.

In response to allegations that the encampment is inflaming antisemitism, HJC pointed to encampment participation by Jewish students and community members. The collective claimed that Jewish people are an integral part of the demonstration and the broader Palestinian liberation movement.

“We must resist the weaponization of false accusations of antisemitism. We fundamentally oppose attempts to conflate criticism of Israel and/or anti-Zionism with antisemitism,” HJC stated. “This conflation hurts Palestinians and people who support them, and endangers Jews, too. It fails to address that the source of the most tangible threats to Jewish lives come from the violent anti-semitism of right-wing movements—the same movements that are attacking Palestinians.”

Yesterday, an individual held up a sign with a swastika behind speakers at the encampment. The HJC described this person as a counter-protestor and condemned the action on Instagram.

HJC highlighted the policies they have implemented to ensure that the protest does not espouse hate or resort to violence. 

“Since the start of our protest, we’ve maintained participant agreements that state we will not tolerate antisemitism, anti-Palestinian sentiment, Islamophobia, or hate and discrimination of any kind,” they wrote. “In the event that antisemitic agitators attempt to position themselves as part of our camp and refuse to leave, we have strategies in place to use our voices to drown out their hate speech, position ourselves such that any hateful signs cannot be seen, and nonviolently direct them away from the encampment.” 

In the X thread, Mudrik added that she has had meetings with members of the Hopkins administration since October 2023 to push them to check calls for violence, yet she has not seen action being taken.

An international student from Israel, Mudrik says she came to Hopkins and to the U.S. to do the research she loves. 

“I did not come to defend my safety, nor my right, or the rights of my family, friends, and millions of others in Israel—Jews, Arabs, and others of different religions—to exist,” the tweet reads.

HJC addressed concerns that the protest could escalate into violence, calling on the University to denounce counter-protesters’ behavior toward pro-Palestinian demonstrations on other college campuses. 

“Antisemitic and violent agitators are not welcome here,” they stated. “To the extent that the University is worried about violent escalation, they should denounce the violent rhetoric and action that Zionist counter-protestors have weaponized on campuses across the country to smear and endanger Pro-Palestinian movements, including recently at the UCLA campus.”

11:45 a.m. Various local politicians comment on the Hopkins Palestinian Solidarity Encampment

In a statement posted on his campaign website Hogan for Maryland, former Governor Larry Hogan condemned the Hopkins Palestinian Solidarity Encampment. Hogan posted this statement on May 1, three days into the encampment at the University.

“The antisemitic bigotry, harassment, threats, and lawlessness spreading through these encampments across college campuses is dangerous and must be immediately addressed,” Hogan said. “What happened at universities like Columbia and UCLA should absolutely not be permitted to happen at Johns Hopkins or any place in Maryland.”

In his statement, Hogan also referred to the 2015 Baltimore Protests following the death of Freddie Gray, which occurred while he was governor. The press release stated that Hogan had demonstrated his ability to deal with violent individuals while protecting the right to peacefully protest.

“I urge city and state officials and university leaders to follow that proven model and take the necessary steps to put a stop to the chaos on campus,” Hogan wrote. 

Hogan is currently running for U.S. Senate in the upcoming 2024 election. He served as Governor of Maryland from 2015 to 2023.

The Maryland House Republican Caucus also condemned the encampment in a statement posted on X. While the House Republican Caucus indicated that they support students’ First Amendment rights to express themselves and protest peacefully, the statement denounces the encampment as something more hateful and dangerous than permissible speech.

“What is occurring at Johns Hopkins and other universities across the country has escalated from peaceful protest to dangerous anarchy and full-blown antisemitism,” the caucus wrote.

The statement went on to label Hamas as a terrorist organization and argue that the University should take disciplinary action against students who engage in antisemitic violence and non-peaceful protest.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, however, took a different approach to the Palestine Solidarity Encampment. In an interview with WBAL-TV, he expressed his support for students’ First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and indicated that the Baltimore Police Department will only take action against the encampment when necessary. 

May 1, 2024

8:58 p.m.



4:42 p.m. Open letter from the Hopkins chapter of the American Association of University Professors

The Johns Hopkins University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released an open letter addressed to President Ronald J. Daniels and the University administration regarding the ongoing encampment on the Beach.

The letter began with quotes from the Statement on Academic Freedom, which was adopted by the Hopkins Board of Trustees in September 2015. The Hopkins AAUP argued that the current protest is in accordance with the University’s principles set forth in the statement. 

In the letter, the Hopkins AAUP references the University’s recent warning that students protesting outside the approved hours will face disciplinary action, as well as the Baltimore Police Department (BPD)’s statement to WJZ on Tuesday evening. In the BPD’s statement, the police said they did not have any current plans to break up the protest “barring any credible threat of violence.”

“​​The peaceful protest currently underway at Johns Hopkins does not defame, threaten, deface, or harass,” the letter stated. “Even the Baltimore Police Department, in declining to intervene, has stated that it poses no ‘credible threat of violence.’ For that reason, we are alarmed by recent administration statements that still threaten disciplinary and even police action against students who are allegedly ‘trespassing’ on their own campus.”

The Hopkins AAUP argued that the University should tolerate peaceful protest on campus without threats of disciplinary action or police intervention. The letter states that Hopkins has a “rich tradition of campus protest” and cites previous demonstrations, including Garland Hall sit-ins protesting the Johns Hopkins Police Department and the South African apartheid.

12:00 p.m. HJC releases a statement 

In a statement released Wednesday morning, the HJC confirmed the continuation of the Hopkins Palestine Solidarity Encampment into its third day and called for more support, citing escalations in Rafah.

“Today, we need all eyes on Rafah and all hands on deck at the JHU Palestine Solidarity Encampment to let the Administration know we will not stand idly by as our tuition contributes to the firebombing of refugee camps in Palestine,” they wrote. 

The HJC went on to dispute claims made by the University in its Tuesday night statement. The collective criticized the University for its alleged complicity in what they describe as one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time, contradicting the University's role as a leader in public health education.

“The University has released statements citing concern about the ‘health, safety and welfare of students’ at the encampment,” the statement said. “We declare that Johns Hopkins University has no place to speak on health and safety as a so-called leader in public health education that has done nothing but enable one of the largest public health and humanitarian crises of our time.”  

Rather than drawing in unaffiliated members “who may not have the best interests of our community at heart,” as the University claimed, the HJC argues that the encampment has gathered “liberation organizers from all corners of the community to amplify students' calls for demilitarization, from Baltimore to Palestine.” The HJC emphasized the importance of including community voices, given that the movement must be built in conversation with everyone impacted by the University’s action.

In the statement, the HJC announced teach-in events on Wednesday from the People's Power Assembly at 6 p.m., Malaya Baltimore on Filipino and Palestinian Solidarity at 2 p.m. and the Party for Socialism and Liberation on Black and Palestinian Solidarity at 8 p.m.

10:40 a.m. University releases a statement highlighting concerns with protests 

The University released a statement about the encampment on Tuesday night, in which they voiced concerns that the HJC has not upheld their part of the agreement established Monday morning. Protestors remained on the Beach between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m., outside of the permitted hours.

"We are extremely concerned about the health, safety and welfare of students involved in the protest who have chosen to encamp, as well as others in our community,” the University said. “Encampments draw in people unaffiliated with the University who may not have the best interests of our community at heart.”

The University then argued that the protestors’ masks and pseudonyms pose a safety concern to the Hopkins community. They referenced similar protests at universities around the country as evidence of how these circumstances can escalate and impair student safety.

The statement concluded by warning protestors of the consequences they may face by remaining at the Beach outside permitted hours.

"Affiliated and unaffiliated protesters are in violation of our policies and/or are trespassing,” the University wrote. “We are still prepared to support a peaceful protest during the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., but students who engage in protest outside of these hours will face disciplinary action.”


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