Auraria antiwar protesters are scattering the encampment campus-wide as universities announce building lockdown

The antiwar encampment on the Auraria campus has been in place for three weeks.
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Protesters at the Auraria antiwar camp are moving their tents campus-wide. Friday, May 17, 2024.
Rebecca Tauber/Denverite

The antiwar encampment at Auraria's Tivoli Quad turned into an all-campus presence Friday night, as protesters scattered their tents and public art opposing the war in Gaza across different locations.

“This whole campus is now an encampment,” a protester shouted during a rally that preceded the move.

Organizers called the shift "a new iteration of exhibitions throughout campus" in a statement.

Dozen of tents still remained three weeks after students started camping out at Auraria Campus to protest the war in Gaza. It is one of the longest-running encampments nationwide.

“Our campus administration think that they can wait us out. Shame!" student organizer Khalid Hamu said during the rally. "Our campus admin think that they can keep sending us from meeting to meeting to meeting thinking we're just gonna keep accepting these non-changes, shame! Our admin think that they can continue business as usual under a genocide.“

How have the universities been responding lately?

The students' update came the same afternoon that the campus announced all buildings would be locked after 6 p.m. on Friday.

9News also reported Friday that the schools on the Auraria Campus would be moving to remote learning.

On Thursday, CU regents issued this statement about the protests:

"The University of Colorado Board of Regents is actively monitoring the protest on the Auraria Campus. We support the rights of our students, faculty, staff and campus visitors to exercise their First Amendment rights. We expect everyone to respect the learning, teaching and business environment that allows our university to function at its fullest extent. Those who engage in expressive conduct are expected to comply with relevant laws, policies and conduct codes that are intended to create a safe learning environment. Consequences will be imposed as applicable for those who don’t comply with these laws, policies and conduct codes.

No regent is offering any policy changes in response to the demand.

Auraria Campus protesters moved their encampment across the school grounds, scattering tents, couches and art pieces
Rebecca Tauber/Denverite
Campus police move some art and shade tents so they don't block a garage, but do not dismantle it.
Rebecca Tauber/Denverite

What's happened so far?

Students at Auraria set up their antiwar camp on April 25, joining other student demonstrations nationwide protesting the war, which began in October when Hamas killed more than a thousand Israelis and took another 200 hostage. Since then, Israel has killed around 35,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Stop, a narrow strip of land under blockade by Israel and Egypt.

Since the protests began, police have arrested hundreds of students across the country for violating school policies against camping. According to Auraria campus administration, 80 people have been arrested since the Denver encampment began, a figure that includes 16 active students, three staff and faculty members, and a number of other community members.

The pro-Palestine protest camp at Denver's Auraria Campus on May 14, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The protesters, led by Students for a Democratic Society, are calling on leadership at University of Colorado and Metropolitan State University to put out a public statement condemning the war, divest from corporations operating in Israel and increase transparency around university investments in those companies, end any study abroad partnership programs in Israel, and sever ties with and refuse grants from companies that contract with Israel and the U.S. military.

Organizers and campus leadership have continued talks since the protests began, but have not reached a deal to end the encampment as some students have elsewhere in the country.

Earlier this week, Harvard University agreed to discuss student concerns about the endowment and process petitions to reinstate students who were suspended as part of the protest, in exchange for students ending the encampment.

In recent weeks, protesters have also occupied administrative offices on campus in addition to camping on Tivoli Quad lawn. According to the administration, the protest has cost the Auraria campus around $290,000 in damages and canceled community events.

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