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Winter weather doesn't stop anti-war protesters in 3rd day of demonstrations on Auraria campus in Denver

Posted at 6:08 PM, Apr 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-29 07:49:01-04

DENVER — The winter weather did not stop people from protesting the Israel-Hamas war on the Auraria campus in Denver on Saturday.

On Thursday, hundreds of anti-war protesters began gathering on the lawn near Tivoli Quad, some setting up tents. On Friday, dozens of protesters were arrested following a clash with Denver police.

On the third day of protests, dozens of tents covered in snow were still set up near Tivoli Quad as hundreds listened to political activist Angela Davis speak to the crowd in support of the demonstration.

Protesters told Denver7 that they plan on staying overnight for a third time and don't plan on leaving anytime soon until the schools that make up Auraria campus — the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Community College of Denver — took a public stance in the Israel-Hamas war.

Denver7 spoke with Metro State University student Paul Nelson, who was still reflecting on the chaos that broke out Friday.

"It was pretty brutal," said Nelson. "It was a peaceful demonstration and they (police) decided to bring violence to it."

Friday, officers who were dressed in full protective gear and armed with batons were seen blocking students who were chanting "Long live Palestine!" from entering their tents.

Police were later seen taking some of the students who were resisting arrest into one of at least two Denver Sheriff Department buses that had been parked nearby.

A spokesperson for the Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC) said the encampment violates its policy. Although students are allowed to peacefully protest, setting up tents is a violation.

Paul Nelson

In a statement, the AHEC said law enforcement was called in Friday to remove protesters from an encampment that was cleared just a day earlier.

"In the weeks leading up to and during the past two days, campus administrators repeatedly spoke with numerous protestors and advised them of our policy, including providing written copies. When protesters did not comply after numerous requests to do so, law enforcement stepped in to remove the encampment. Several protesters who did not comply with law enforcement requests to disperse were arrested," the AHEC statement said.

Nelson said he was one of around 40 students who were arrested during the demonstration. He was released Saturday around 2 a.m.

"They hauled us all off in a bus to Denver jail, where the conditions are just horrible," he said. "This is an issue between students and their administration. There's no need to involve the police. There was no threat to anyone's safety."

Winter weather doesn't stop anti-war protesters on Auraria campus in Denver

Police were noticeably absent from Saturday's demonstration. However, it's unclear if they are monitoring the situation or what their strategy is going forward. Denver7 is awaiting a response from campus police.

Nelson said he returned to campus immediately after being released from jail. He said they were working to adjust to the weather.

"There's a lot of snow in some of the tents. And so we have a lot of work to do, in terms of like making the camp more suitable for everybody," he said.

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