DC police say officers won’t take down GW encampment despite GOP demands

DC police say officers won’t take down GW encampment despite GOP demands

District of Columbia police defended its decision to let the pro-Palestinian encampment at George Washington University (GW) stand, despite calls from Republican lawmakers for it to be cleared.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Mayor Muriel Bowser have been scrutinized for allowing the protest at GW to continue. The encampment has been up for more than two weeks.

MPD Chief Pamela Smith argued that as long as the encampment is peaceful, it will not have to be cleared, but that could change if a shift in “behavior” occurs on the private university’s campus, according to a report by NBC Washington.

“I think here in the District of Columbia, we allow people the opportunity to have freedom of speech, and that’s what we’re seeing right now. There has been no violence, no violent behavior, no confrontations,” Smith said, according to an MPD spokesperson. “If the behavior changes, then our procedures and our process might change.”

The spokesperson also told The Hill, “The approach Chief Smith mentioned here remains our current posture.”

Smith’s comments come as both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel rallies were held Thursday on GW’s campus.

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) has called Bowser and Smith to testify before the committee next week over the ongoing protest. Comer’s request to grill officials follows the report from The Washington Post stating that D.C. police refused to clear the encampment despite the school calling for it.

“The House Oversight Committee is deeply concerned over reports indicating the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department rejected George Washington University’s request for help in removing the radical, antisemitic, and unlawful protestors occupying the campus and surrounding public lands,” Comer said.

Comer along with conservative lawmakers visited the campus, where they sparred with protesters, with some even threatening to withhold federal funding from the institution.

Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Byron Donalds (Fla.) and Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.) all encountered protesters at GW and called for city officials to assist the school.

“That being said, the mayor has a responsibility to support George Washington. The encampment is now trespassing. That is what the university president and the administration has said: You are trespassing on GW. They’ve asked for support from the mayor. Mayor Bowser doesn’t want to come and support them. She needs to do her job,” Donalds said.

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