NewsFront RangeDenver


Pro-Palestinian activists call on Auraria students to walk out Monday, join Tivoli Quad encampment

Community College of Denver moving to remote learning starting at 5 p.m. Monday, campus officials say
Posted: 11:59 AM, Apr 29, 2024
Updated: 2024-04-29 19:55:06-04
pro-palestinian encampment at auraria campus_april 29 2024.jpg
pro palestinian protests denver auraria campus tivoli quad.png

DENVER — Pro-Palestinian activists called on students at Denver’s Auraria campus to walk out of class Monday and join a peaceful encampment at Tivoli Quad where dozens of protesters have been calling on university officials to cut financial ties with Israel over its war in Gaza.

In an Instagram post shared Sunday, the Colorado Palestine Coalition (CPC) and the group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) urged students and faculty to walk out of class starting at noon Monday and meet at Tivoli Quad to protest the Israel-Hamas war.

“As Israel continues its assault on Gaza, we remain steadfast in our fight for our universities to completely divest from Israel,” the call-to-action on the group’s Instagram page states.

The protest at Denver’s Auraria campus, which houses the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Community College of Denver, is just one of nearly 50 others happening at universities across the nation following the arrest of more than 100 demonstrators at Columbia University in New York on April 18.

"The walkout is basically just another action that we're trying to take to show that we really are taking this seriously as students and as students, we should be taken seriously," said CU Denver student Ayatt Drera, who joined in the protest Monday afternoon. "These are people, you know? Lives. And I think a lot of us have gotten desensitized by the numbers."

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Monday, Auraria campus officials announced that Community College of Denver (CCD) was moving to remote learning starting at 5 p.m. In announcing the move, President Dr. Marielena DeSanctis in a statement cited "recent incidents (that) have highlighted a growing divide between those who seek constructive dialogue and those who aim to sow discord and disruption."

The last day of the spring semester at CCD college is May 6. The other two colleges at the campus — University of Colorado Denver and Metropolitan State University of Denver — have not announced whether they will switch to remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester.

Approximately 40 people were arrested Friday by Auraria Higher Education Center Police and the Denver Police Department, an Auraria spokesperson told Denver7 last week. All of them were facing trespassing charges.

The nationwide protests calling on university officials to separate themselves from any companies that are advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza — and in some cases from Israel itself — follow Israeli's response in Gaza after a surprise attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023, in which militants killed 1,139 people, most of them civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages. Following the attack, the Israeli government vowed to destroy Hamas and has since killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, around two-thirds of them children and women, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

In Denver, students are urging CU to divest from corporations that operate in Israel, reject grants and funding from organizations that have military ties with Israel, as well as shut down study abroad programs in the Middle Eastern country. They're also asking that CU Denver fully disclose its financial investments and are demanding Chancellor Michelle Marks meet with student organizers and discuss a plan to implement the aforementioned demands.

"We're asking for full divestment from any corporations that operate in Israel. We're asking for the chancellor to write a statement to condemn Israel's actions and the genocide in Palestine. And we're also asking for them to disclose some of their funds," said Lucia Feast, a member of SDS, one of the groups responsible for organizing the encampment and protest last Thursday. "Because we're students here at a public university, we pay a lot of money to be here and we would like to know where our money's going and want to be aware of that. We deserve that."

In a statement Monday, Chancellor Marks said that while she supported "the rights of our students and community members to free speech and to assemble peacefully," the encampments set up by pro-Palestinian protesters at Tivoli Quad were "a different matter," as they violated Auraria campus policy and could cause public health and safety concerns.

The chancellor did not address the demands by pro-Palestinian demonstrators in her statement Monday.

"This is the only way that we can get the university's attention," Feast said. "We're not leaving until our demands are met."

Denver7's Veronica Acosta contributed to this report.

Pro-Palestinian activists call on Auraria students to walk out Monday

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.