Triangle Community Unites for Palestine at “Gaza Solidarity Encampment”

Interim chancellor Lee Roberts assists in putting the American flag back up on Polk Place on Tuesday, April 30. (Daily Tar Heel/ Heather Diehl)

By: Heather Diehl

The “Triangle Gaza Solidarity Encampment” was established at Polk Place on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus on Friday, April 26, 2024. Protesters in the encampment included community members and students from UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, and Duke University. The UNC-Chapel Hill administration ordered the tents to be taken down to comply with UNC policy, resulting in protesters sleeping on the Quad on disassembled tents and tarps.

A protest and march around campus on Sunday, April 28, gathered over 500 protesters, after which the tents were re-erected at the “Triangle Gaza Solidarity Encampment.”

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30, UNC police officers provided a 30-minute warning to clear the encampment. If protesters did not comply by 6 a.m., they faced possible suspension, expulsion, and arrest. 30 were detained and 6 were arrested. All were later released.

Police officers move back a line of students who had been participating in a “pro-Palestine encampment” on Polk Place at UNC Chapel Hill on the morning of Tuesday, April 30, 2024. (Daily Tar Heel / Heather Diehl)

UNC Students for Justice in Palestine held a vigil and march later that day. Some protesters, after the vigil and march, pushed metal barricades down to enter the grassy area that had held the “Triangle Gaza Solidarity Encampment” earlier that morning. The protesters approached the flagpole, lowering the American flag and replacing it with a Palestinian flag.

UNC interim Chancellor Lee Roberts responded by entering the Quad with a team of UNC Police Officers. Pro-Palestine protesters and police clashed. Police pulled protesters by their hair and deployed pepper spray multiple times. The Palestinian flag was lowered and the American flag put back in its place.

UNC police remove a protester from the flag pole by her hair on Tuesday, April 30. (Daily Tar Heel / Heather Diehl)

Roberts and police raised the American flag as counter-protesters cheered and showed support. Counter-protesters chanted “USA” and sang the Star Spangled Banner. Police escorted Roberts to the steps of South Building after he shook hands with counter-protesters. Roberts addressed the media at South Building while a group of students with Israeli and American flags remained on the Quad holding the American flag off the ground.

Interim chancellor Lee Roberts shakes hands with counter protesters on Tuesday, April 30 after raising the American flag at Polk Place and taking down the Palestinian flag. (Daily Tar Heel / Heather Diehl)

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