Weapons Found at DePaul University Anti-Israel Encampment in ‘New Level of Escalation on Campus’

‘This is not just an Israel problem, this is an American problem,’ one observer tells the Sun. ‘If people here are not going to wake up soon, we’re going to lose our higher education system.’

Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
A protester sits on the ground and cries as crews disassemble the pro-Palestinian encampment at DePaul University's Lincoln Park campus Thursday. Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

In a “new level of violence” unfolding at anti-Israel encampments, weapons were discovered when police cleared DePaul University’s encampment at Chicago early Thursday morning — including knives, a pellet gun, and boards with nails sticking out of them meant to be used as “traps.” 

After more than two weeks of protesters engaging in antisemitic threats and intimidation of Jewish students, the university announced it would disassemble the encampment as it has been unable to come to  “shared resolution” with the demonstrators.

“This is a new level of escalation on campus,” the president of Students Supporting Israel, Ilan Sinelnikov, tells the Sun, adding that he has never seen knives or pellet guns like that in any encampments. It took an extreme level of threats for the university’s administration to step in, he adds. 

“They started the encampment on April 30. It’s not like it was around for two days. For 17 days it was around and it was not taken care of,” he says. “Thank God they shut it down now, but what were they waiting on? For someone to actually be killed on this campus or for someone to actually be assaulted or beat up?”

The university, like others across the country, had been negotiating with the encampment’s leaders, Mr. Sinelnikov adds, “instead of just removing those violent trespassers.” 

The university put out a lengthy list of hundreds of complaints from students, faculty, parents, and community members, ranging from a death threat to dozens of reports of antisemitism, intimidation, battery, and academic disruptions.

DePaul University

An estimated $180,000 in damage was caused to the quad and surrounding areas, the school says, as protesters used spray paint on school buildings, chained library doors, etched on windows, removed safety grates, and more. 

Although summer break is approaching for many colleges, he doesn’t anticipate any slowdown in the protests, Mr. Sinelnikov says.

“I don’t think it’s going to end anytime soon. You know, we’ve seen encampments popping up in schools across America that don’t even have school anymore, and they’re still setting those up,” he says. “I think the only way for it to be over would be if the administrations take a firm stance against it and don’t enable the problem but actually act to solve the problem.”

One student reported that she was “followed through the Quad where she overheard ‘I want to kill her’ and ‘I want to rape her,’” DePaul’s threat page notes, adding that she was told she was “Jewish scum.”

DePaul University

Other reports included Jewish people being pushed to the ground and having paint thrown on them. 

“From the beginning of the encampment, I have said that we would protect free speech and the ability to dissent until it either prevented us from carrying out the operations of our university or threatened the safety of the members of our community,” an email viewed by the Sun from DePaul’s president, Robert Manuel, reads. “I am deeply saddened to say the encampment has crossed that line.” 

The president then urged the encampment protesters to “leave peacefully and return home,” while warning that anyone attempting to breach the quad would be arrested and suspended. 

“Our campuses are under attack, they’re under attack by extremists, by radical voices, by terrorist supporting voices and sympathizers,”  Mr. Sinelnikov says. “This is not just an Israel problem, this is an American problem. If people here are not going to wake up soon, we’re going to lose our higher education system.”


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