Dozens of Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested at FIT

ACTION TAKEN: After weeks of pro-Palestinian protests and an encampment, the Fashion Institute of Technology called in the New York Police Department Tuesday afternoon and 46 protesters were arrested.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 41 of the protesters had been released and five were charged with summonses, according to a NYPD spokesman.

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Pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the Goodman lobby of the Museum at FIT, then established an encampment in the courtyard of its New York City campus nearly two weeks ago. In a lengthy statement that was issued Wednesday, FIT’s president Dr. Joyce Brown said the encampment in the school’s courtyard violated FIT’s rules and regulations, city codes and FIT’s student code of conduct.

Representatives from Students for Justice in Palestine could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Brown claimed to have repeatedly met with the spokespersons for the student protesters and had offered to continue discussions. She said regular activities at the college had been compromised and canceled as a result. In addition, access to school facilities had been limited.

The police action happened a day before the FIT Foundation’s annual fundraising gala in New York City where Norma Kamali, Kenneth Cole and LoveShackFancy’s Rebecca Hessel Cohen will honored. Guests will require government-issued identification to access the event for the first time.

After a missed deadline, which Brown alleged had been extended twice and a declined offer to the protesters’ representatives, a social media post called for “reinforcements” to rally on 27th Street, according to Brown. By her account, the NYPD maintained crowd control and tried “to ensure the rally did not escalate further. However, as expected, the insistence by some students to continue the occupation resulted in further action by the NYPD,” Brown said.

The FIT president said she was “deeply saddened” by this outcome and that she had tried “very hard” to allow students and other school community members on both sides “to peacefully protest and make their feelings known.”

She claimed that in the end, “there was no room for dialogue or coexistence.” Brown’s statement ended with, “I write this message with the clear knowledge that there is no sentiment — there are no words — that will not offend someone. I write with no notion of convincing anyone of my painful awareness of the fear and suffering so many are experiencing on all sides of this issue.” She added, “I believe that as a community we can recover and hold onto our values of civility.”

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