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MIT Police Arrest 9 Students Blocking Parking Garage in Pro-Palestine Protest

Harvard students rallied in support of a pro-Palestine encampment at MIT last month. Nine students involved in the encampment were arrested by MIT police during a Thursday protest.
Harvard students rallied in support of a pro-Palestine encampment at MIT last month. Nine students involved in the encampment were arrested by MIT police during a Thursday protest. By Frank S. Zhou
By Asher J. Montgomery, Crimson Staff Writer

MIT Police Department officers arrested nine students involved in blocking the MIT Stata Center parking garage, the school announced in an alert to affiliates on Thursday evening.

The students arrested were a mix of graduate and undergraduate students who were previously involved in a multi-week pro-Palestine MIT encampment on Kresge lawn, according to an organizer.

“In response to the nonviolent student action at the MIT Stata garage, police at MIT forcefully handled and shoved MIT students to the ground, using unnecessary and extreme force to move, detain and arrest students,” the organizers of the “Students Against Genocide” Encampment wrote in a Thursday press release.

MIT spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment.

The arrests came just days after the Cambridge City Council passed a resolution urging Harvard, MIT, and the Cambridge Police Department to respect the rights of pro-Palestine students to protest.

CPD and state troopers were also on scene “helping to keep the garage entrance clear for vehicles to leave the parking garage,” according to the MIT alert. The MIT and Harvard University Police Departments book their arrests through CPD.

On Wednesday night prior to the arrests, MIT administration issued suspensions to 23 MIT students who had been participating in the encampment, according to the organizers’ press release.

The Thursday protest began at 1 p.m. on the Student Center Plaza before demonstrators marched to Vassar Street, blocking the entrance to the garage.

At 1:55 p.m., protestors were pushed to the ground and handcuffed by MIT police, according to the MIT Tech, MIT’s campus newspaper. Some protestors were zip tied and forcefully moved away from the garage entrance.

By 8:10 p.m., the protest was fully dispersed and the street was fully opened to traffic.

An MIT organizer said that there was a “shift” in the behavior of MIT police beginning on Monday, when MIT President Sally A. Korbluth threatened suspension against students who remained in the encampment. Prior to the Monday protest when MIT police were recorded pushing protestors, the police presence was peaceful, the organizer said.

In her Monday letter to MIT affiliates, Kornbluth wrote that the encampment is “highly unstable.”

“No matter how peaceful the students’ behavior may be, unilaterally taking over a central portion of our campus for one side of a hotly disputed issue and precluding use by other members of our community is not right,” she wrote.

—Staff writer Asher J. Montgomery can be reached at asher.montgomery@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @asherjmont or on Threads @asher_montgomery.

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