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Denver police refused Auraria’s second request to clear pro-Palestine encampment; chief says “no legal way”

Police last week arrested 45 people during sweep of demonstration on Auraria Campus
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Posted at 12:19 PM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 19:34:17-04

Denver police Chief Ron Thomas said Friday that he refused a second request from officials at the Auraria Campus to clear pro-Palestine demonstrators from an encampment after police arrested 45 people in a tense sweep of the site last week — and said there is currently “no legal way” for officers to dismantle the demonstration.

Thomas blamed Auraria Campus officials for mishandling the aftermath of the mass arrests last week, saying that he’d expected the school to collect demonstrators’ tents to return them at a later time, but that the school instead left the tents at the site, allowing demonstrators to quickly rebuild the encampment.

“And as you might imagine, they just came and re-erected the tents and we were back at square one,” Thomas said. “At which point (Auraria officials) asked us to come back and engage in the operation again. And that’s when I shut it down and said, ‘I’m not doing that again.’ I’m not going to go in and arrest 40, now 80 — because by this time the crowd had grown significantly larger. And I didn’t think it was safe, nor did I think it was appropriate, to go in and do that again. So I shut it down.”

Thomas, who spoke during a regular meeting of Denver’s Citizen Oversight Board on Friday morning, went on to say that law enforcement currently has “no legal way” to clear the pro-Palestine encampment at the campus that serves the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Community College of Denver.

“While the school would prefer the group leave the area, I just don’t think there is any legal way to do that,” he said. “Well, I know there is no legal way to do that, unless they truly do something that creates an unlawful assembly. And there is no intelligence at this point to suggest that is imminent.”

Click here for the full story from The Denver Post.

Pro-Palestinian activists at Auraria Campus reject offer from anonymous donors

On Friday afternoon, a representative with Auraria Higher Education Center provided this update to Denver7:

"Members of Auraria Higher Education Executives Council met again today (May 3) with student protestors to maintain an open dialogue and find a peaceful path forward for our campus community. The discussion provided an opportunity for all parties to be heard. MSU Denver and CU Denver are actively setting up campus dialogue sessions as a way to engage our community. We will continue to support and encourage peaceful debate and civil engagement on our campus while ensuring the safety of our students, employees, and visitors."

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