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ASU confirms 69 people arrested outside of Old Main in response to encampment early Saturday morning

At around midnight on Saturday, police moved on the demonstration, arresting protestors and throwing tents away.

Counter-protesters and cleanup crews throw away camp equipment while pro-Palestine protesters occupy the Alumni Lawn outside of Old Main in an encampment called the "ASU Liberated Zone" on Friday, April 26, 2024, in Tempe.

ASU PD, Tempe PD and State troopers arrested 69 people and threw away tents after midnight outside of Old Main around midnight on Saturday.

The arrests came after two warnings to protestors in an encampment about one hour apart, one at around 10:40 p.m., and another at around 11:47 p.m. Police moved in five minutes later. 

Emailed statement from Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales and Executive Vice President, Treasurer and CFO Morgan R. Olsen to faculty on April 27, 2024.

There was an 11 p.m. deadline to clear the camp, according to an ASU spokesperson. The encampment had been set up since after 8 a.m. on Friday morning.

Protestors and police had been facing off, backing the protestors away from Old Main and towards University Drive. Officers arrested protestors who were at the front of the remaining crowd of about 200 people just after 1:00 a.m.. The crowd dwindled slowly after.

As police slowly moved forward, cleanup crews behind them picked up what was left of the sprawling encampment.

An ASU spokesperson said the people in the encampment were mostly not ASU students, faculty or staff and demonstrations cannot take place between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. The spokesperson said people who refused to leave were charged with criminal trespass.

"While the university will continue to be an environment that embraces freedom of speech, ASU’s first priority is to create a safe and secure environment that supports teaching and learning," the ASU spokesperson said.

Several pro-Palestine student & community groups began an encampment on Alumni Lawn, outside Old Main. The "ASU Liberated Zone" amassed around 400 protestors at its height around 6 p.m. Friday night.

Police officers ordered the people in the encampment violated Arizona Revised Statute 13-1502 which states that someone commits third-degree trespassing if they "knowingly enter or remain unlawfully on any real property after a reasonable request to leave by a law enforcement officer, the owner or any other person having lawful control over such property, or reasonable notice prohibiting entry."

Later, police said to the crowd that the encampment violated Arizona Revised Statute 13-2902, deeming it an unlawful assembly "with the intent to engage in conduct constituting a riot" and a class one misdemeanor.

Protestors proceeded to link arms and hunker down after the warning. After the deadline passed, little about the situation changed for over a half hour, except for the arrival of state police cars.

In the early moments of the protest, the ASU Police Department arrested three demonstrators for trespassing. The chief of ASUPD was also recorded cutting up tents. After tents were taken down early in the morning, protestors rebuilt them throughout the day and stayed up through high winds.

From the morning until midnight, the protest remained peaceful through most of the day as the sun set on the growing encampment.

Protestors chanted "Free, Free Palestine" and "Genocide Crow has got to go" while their encampment, stocked with ample water and food, sprawled across the lawn. Police stuck around the protest, monitoring its growth, but didn't interfere again until late Friday night.

Along with calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, the list of the encampment's official demands included ASU President Michael Crow's resignation and the University's divestment from "all companies tied to the state of Israel or complicit in the occupation of Palestine." 

They also demanded the reinstatement of MECHA de ASU, a political student organization that was suspended for comments on an Instagram post earlier in the semester.

READ MORE: MECHA de ASU suspended for recent Instagram post

Imam Omar, the Imam of Tempe Mosque and chaplain for Muslim students at ASU, encouraged the protest to remain peaceful and warned protestors against getting into conflicts with police officers.

"Do not let them harass any police officers," he said to the crowd around noon. "That defeats the message and puts you guys in more danger, so please keep the peace and keep your voices loud, but do not harass any police officers."

The University later released a public statement saying, " Encampments are prohibited on Arizona State University property. Peaceful expression of views is always acceptable, but demonstrations cannot disrupt university operations. ASU is committed to maintaining a secure environment for everyone."

Earlier in the afternoon, around 15 counter-protestors came to the site, but the protest remained peaceful. At 5:45 p.m., an unidentified man harassed protestors at the edge of the zone, yelling offensive racial insults. 

During the evening, the protest engaged in peaceful demonstrations, including prayer, chants, and drumming. At 6 p.m., a young child danced in the drum circle with music playing from the speakers.

Edited by Shane Brennan, Walker Smith and Angelina Steel. 

Editor's note: This story was updated at 10:21 a.m..This is a developing story and may be updated.

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