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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

campus administration

LIVE UPDATES: Scenes from day six of Gaza encampment, campus protests

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For more recent coverage of the encampment, check out LIVE UPDATES: Scenes from day 9 of Gaza encampment, campus protests

6 p.m. at Dunn Meadow 

As protesters continue their stay in the sun, the bees who reside by a small wooden bridge over Campus River meander about, oftentimes getting in the way of people passing by. However, no reports of stinging have been made.  

The bees are about the size of an overripe blueberry, and they can oftentimes be seen hugging to the railings which run along the bridge. Earlier this week there was a sign hanging on the bridge, however it has since been removed.  

The teach-ins with the protesters are still underway, and the encampment continues to be speckled with light conversations and making signs. One tent has also been established as a place for students to study if needed.  

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A bumblebee sits on a railing on the bridge across Campus River on April 30, 2024, at Dunn Meadow. No reports of stinging have been made.

4:32 p.m. online  

IU sent an email to graduating seniors and their families informing them that there would be a “designated protest area” at the 2024 Commencement ceremony Friday, May 3 at Assembly Hall. 

“IU respects the free sharing of ideas and viewpoints, and it is our duty to uphold the right to peaceful protest under the First Amendment,” the email read.  

The protest area will be outside the Commencement venue. The email said that venue staffers would be inside the venue to ensure protesters will remain in the designated protest area.  

The email added that guests will be required to walk through a metal detector, and only clear bags about the size of a gallon or small clutch bags would be permitted inside the event.  

4 p.m. Dunn Meadow 

In Dunn Meadow, protesters began multiple teach-ins on subjects such as “#FeesMustFall: student organizing and decolonizing academic institutions in post-apartheid South Africa” and “Geographies of Hope and Liberation.”  A group of protesters, some on the ground and some on blankets, sat across the river which runs through Dunn Meadow. 

Some danced to music playing on the speaker system. Other protesters stayed out of the sun in tents and canopies.  

Around 2:55 p.m. at Sample Gates  

Protesters from the Dunn Meadow encampment walked to Sample Gates, placing flyers that read, “IU violence spans across the world” on buildings, signs and the Ernie Pyle statue in front of Franklin Hall.  

Multiple groups were taking senior photos in front of Sample Gates when the group of protesters showed up to hang flyers on the gates. Protesters weren’t chanting, but many groups of seniors still cleared out shortly after the protesters arrived. 

“I just want to take my pictures,” one of them said. 

Another pointed a bottle of champagne in the direction of a protester.  

“Should I open it this way?” she asked the photographer. 

One of the protesters who led the march said that they were at the Sample Gates to make sure people couldn’t avoid their message. 

“We’ve seen people watch our protests, walk straight by them,” he said. “We've written on the chalk that 15,000 children are dead and they can't look off their phones.” 

The protesters silently held signs and a banner in front of the gates for around five minutes after they hung the flyers up. At around 3:04 p.m., the group walked back to Dunn Meadow. 

Around 3:15 p.m., a group marched back to Sample Gates, this time chanting and writing chalk messages such as “Divest Now” and “Free Palestine” along Indiana Avenue. 

One medic was standing among the protesters. Joe Varga, an IU professor involved with the protest, said he was there to make sure students stay safe. He said there is a rotating crew of six or seven informally trained medics, including himself. Local nurses – a married couple -- are the ones overseeing the training, he said. 

Protesters stood chanting at the gates for more than 20 minutes. 

At 3:37 p.m., the protesters again departed Sample Gates. As they left, a car drove by the gates on Indiana Avenue, shouting “Get a job!” in the direction of the protesters. 

“I’m a lawyer,” one of them shouted back.

2 p.m. at Dunn Meadow 

IU student Azzam Atif recited the Adhan, a Muslim call to prayer, into a microphone.  

He and six others prayed the Dhuhr once the sun settled above their heads. Atif said the encampment is religiously diverse, and everyone inside has been incredibly respectful of his traditions and religion.  

Earlier this week, other protesters offered to gather around the group to act as security if anyone bothered them while they prayed, he said.  

Those outside the encampment have been less respectful of his faith, Atif said. He said loud music from the Chabad house interrupted his prayer on Friday.  

Over the weekend, he said someone shouted, “Is this a Hamas training camp?” from the street at him and others while they prayed. Others have called them terrorists, he said. 

As he said this, a woman in a yellow vest that read “Legal Observer” walked by with her phone outstretched so he could scan a QR code on her screen linking to resources in case protesters are arrested. She overheard him. She said she’s Jewish, and she’s sorry someone would say that to him.  

Atif said he hopes seeing his prayer brings others hope.  

“Maybe people see it and it influences their hearts one day,” he said.  

1 p.m. at Dunn Meadow 

Leaders of religious communities across Bloomington passed a megaphone among one another at an interfaith rally. From the Disciples of Christ to the Islamic Center of Bloomington, Jewish Voices for Peace to the Unitarian Universalist Church, representatives from various religious organizations shared their support for the protesters and voiced their concern for lives of Palestinians under siege in Gaza.  

Bill Breeden, a retired minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, took the megaphone. He said he and others occupied Dunn Meadow to protest for 45 days during the first Gulf War. Breden said some nights they spent there were below freezing. The encampment included at least 30 tents, including one with a wood stove, he said.   

IU did not call the cops on them — in fact, the Dean of Students visited the protest often, he said.   Breden said the only police involvement came when Bloomington police chased away people who threw fireworks at the protesters. 

“That was Bloomington in 1991,” he said as the crowd of protesters applauded.  

Breeden said a military response has never been the answer and never will be. He hasn’t been to jail in a while, he said, but he did meet amazing people there in the past while jailed for his protest of American involvement in the Contra War.  

“I feel like it would be an honor,” he said. “If they arrest you today, they’re going to have to arrest me too.” 

Breeden said the police are not the answer, but they aren’t his enemy. Violence is his enemy. 

12:30 p.m. online

Alison Sinadinos, president of the IU Bloomington Staff Council, wrote an email to staff sharing the council’s concerns about “the events of the past week and the effect its having on our campus community.” 

She wrote that the council will be collecting staff feedback, which can be anonymous, through an online form to share with campus leaders. 

She also linked to mental health resources. 

12:02 p.m. online

The Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Association executive officers sent an email to the department and IU administration condemning the Indiana State Police’s arrest of 56 protesters at the Dunn Meadow encampment April 25 and 27. 

They specifically mentioned the arrests and campus bans of faculty and students. David McDonald, chair of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, was arrested and charged with criminal trespass April 25. 

They also denounced the decision to change long-standing policy permitting the use of structures in Dunn Meadow on April 24, the day before the encampment began. 

“We demand an immediate end to excessive police presence and all police violence and legal action against members of our IU community exercising their rights to protest, as well as full amnesty for the students and faculty who have been arrested,” the email read. 

They also demanded the removal of ISP officers on IU property, who they said are there “to threaten and intimidate students and faculty in spaces of teaching and learning.” 

The officers wrote they demand the resignation of IU President Pamela Whitten, Provost Rahul Shrivastav and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affair Carrie Docherty. They also called on administration to heed the calls from the IU Divestment Coalition and Palestine Solidarity Committee to disclose IU's investment portfolio, end partnerships with Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division and adhere to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions guidelines — meaning a full divestment from Israel. 

“We stand in solidarity with the numerous other groups in our university community who have issued statements decrying the administration’s sickening use of force at this rally, their attempts to suppress our free speech and their utter contempt for the humanity of the faculty and students for whom this university was built,” the email read. 

8:45 a.m. in Dunn Meadow 

Most protesters were sleeping in the 15 tents on the Dunn Meadow ground still damp from yesterday’s rain. Their fourth night at the encampment had been quiet and undisturbed. 

Elena Nissan Thomas, an IU student and one of the protesters, zigzagged between the tents. She had been banned from campus for one year after her arrest Thursday when Indiana State Police and IU Police Department officers moved in on the encampment, taking down tents and arresting 33 protesters.  

Her trespass ban order was halted as she went through the appeals process, so she was allowed to return to the encampment without being arrested for criminal trespassing. 

Most students’ bans were halted when they started the appeals process, she said, but one community member’s appeal had been denied.

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