☑️ The Rutgers-Newark pro-Palestinian encampment was established May 1

☑️ It outlasted protests at Rutgers-New Brunswick and Princeton

☑️ The protesters ignored the first order to decamp on May 21

NEWARK — Participants in the month-long pro-Palestine encampment at Rutgers- Newark broke it down Sunday after being ordered by the university for the second time.

The encampment was established May 1 on University Heights by Newark Solidarity Coalition two days after a similar protest was set up on Voorhees Mall at Rutgers-New Brunswick. While the New Brunswick camp came to a negotiated end after four days, the Newark encampment continued with less media attention.

Protesters in Newark ignored an order on May 21 to clear out and vowed to remain until their demands were met.

The Rutgers-Newark encampment wanted the school to divest from Israel and to provide free public housing, debt forgiveness, pro bono legal services and free dental and medical care to Newark residents.

A second order to break it up was heeded on Sunday morning and the tents came down as Rutgers police watched, according to a statement from the school. No arrests were made.

The school said it was exercising its "authority to regulate the time, place, and manner of protest on university property while preserving the First Amendment rights of the students, faculty, and staff to protest."

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Encampment at Rutgers-Newark encampment
Encampment at Rutgers-Newark encampment (@newarksolidarity via Instagram)

Violations of Rutgers policy the beginning of the end

The university said that for most of the encampment's duration, it held meetings with the encampment leaders and offered "earnest, substantive, and productive responses to a large majority of their concerns."

In the past two weeks, the protesters had become "disengaged" and repeatedly violated university fire safety policy, defaced property, delayed in-person negotiations and tried to erect a large structure in the protest area, according to the university.

"Most recently, the protestors made public statements this past week indicating that they do not plan to honor the path forward for evaluating divestment requests, as codified for all of Rutgers in commitments made by the university on May 2nd," the university said, referring to the agreement reached to end the encampment in New Brunswick.

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Organizers blamed Newark Mayor Ras Baraka for sending Newark police to block streets, an allegation denied by Baraka. 

"Newark police did not engage nor participate in the dismantling of the encampment until three Newark police officers who were conducting traffic control on the streets outside of Rutgers University observed a crowd surrounding two Rutgers police officers. The university's police officers had detained an adult male following a foot pursuit. Newark police provided mutual aid for crowd control," Baraka and Public Safety Director Fritz G. Fragé said in a joint statement.

An officer who was seen flexing his muscles in a video posted by protesters is under disciplinary investigation for "violating Newark policies and procedures."

Newark police officer caught on video flexing his muscles while assisting Rutgers police
Newark police officer caught on video flexing his muscles while assisting Rutgers police 6/9/24 (@nwksolidarity via X)

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