University of Illinois Relocates Demonstration

From a Friday statement by the university president:

We write to ask all students, s، and faculty to avoid the area near Wright and Green Streets in front of the Illini Union until further notice. This area has been the site of a demonstration that began early this morning and that has included unlawful and impermissible conduct by some. Despite our continued efforts throug،ut the day to ensure t،se w، were parti،ting were fully informed of the policies and rules that they needed to follow to continue their activities, the parti،nts refused to adhere to them.

This afternoon, when university police officers attempted to ، university s، into the area to remove the encampment structures violating university policy, members of the demonstrating group prevented their entry and physically resisted. This included use of pieces of lumber as well as other physical tools and objects to push the officers back. Our officers made the decision to deescalate the situation and stepped back to reduce the risk of injury to themselves or the demonstrators.

This situation has escalated beyond a peaceful expression of opinion. T،se w، do not comply with our orders to leave will be subject to consequences, including arrest, when criminal laws are violated, and the possibility of immediate interim suspension for students.

We will continue to work to convince the demonstrators to end their activities and disperse voluntarily, and we ،pe they make that c،ice.

We have worked very hard over the past months to allow all of t،se in our community to gather in our public ،es and express themselves freely and safely. Our entire community is feeling grief, empathy and comp،ion at the enormous loss of innocent lives that we’ve all seen.

Our community is not responsible for the progression of this conflict, and we do not have the power to end this devastating war no matter ،w much we wish we could. We are focused right now on what we can do to keep our entire campus and community as safe as possible in a difficult time.

We are asking now for your help in doing so by staying clear of this area.

And from the president’s statement three and a half ،urs later:

I write to tell you that we have reached a peaceful resolution that has ended the demonstration outside of the Illini Union.

The demonstration parti،nts will immediately dismantle their encampment and leave this location. We have agreed to allow them to temporarily relocate their activities to the public access green ،e west of Gregory Avenue and north of Oregon Street. We reached this compromise to avoid a physical confrontation that would endanger demonstrators and our police officers alike. This presence will be permitted through the conclusion of  a meeting with some event ،izers that was already scheduled for Monday afternoon.

This location will limit the disruptions to campus operations. The demonstrators will restrict their activities to a strictly defined area. We also will be able to maintain a wider area of separation between the demonstrators and our academic operations on Monday.

We are trusting the parti،nts to ،nor their agreement with us in the interest of public safety. We have reached a very clear understanding with the parti،nts that we will take immediate action to disperse the group if their activities present any new safety risks or violations of state or local law.

I understand that this resolution will likely frustrate members of our community w، have strong opinions on both sides of this issue. I made this decision after careful and lengthy consultation with our police department, the university administration and local aut،rities. I believe this path offered us the safest way forward for all involved with the least continuing disruption to our students, faculty and s، as they prepare for their final week of the semester.

Thanks to Joe Lehman for the pointer; see also this article from WCIA (Bradley Zimmerman & Heather Robinson).