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12 arrested during Gaza protests at UMW in Fredericksburg

(University of Mary Washington)

Twelve people protesting the war in Gaza, including nine students, were arrested at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Saturday after those individuals refused to vacate an area around Jefferson Square, according to the university president.

In a message to the college community, UMW President Troy Paino said that after safety concerns arose during the afternoon on Friday, participants in the protest were told that encampments and tents would not be permitted as part of the demonstration.

Paino said that, although the encampments were taken down Friday night and “the peaceful protest continued through the night,” by Saturday afternoon tents had once more been erected in the area and safety concerns arose as more individuals from outside the campus community had joined the demonstration.

Citing security concerns, the university canceled the event for Saturday evening and instructed all participants to leave the area. When 12 individuals, including nine students, refused to leave Jefferson Square, they were arrested and charged with trespassing.

The arrests come at a time when colleges and universities around the country are grappling with how to handle the heated nature of protests surrounding Israel’s military response to the Hamas sponsored terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, 2023.

At George Washington University in D.C., pro-Palestinian protests by students and nonstudents continued for a fourth day Sunday.

Dozens of tents on and in front of GWU’s University Yard and along H Street remain, , the GW University student newspaper.

In his letter, Paino said that UMW remained committed to working with our campus community members to facilitate peaceful expression … when those activities abide by policies and regulations.”

He added, “We do not seek punitive action toward our students with the end of the semester and commencement so close. We will be continuing this conversation, extending grace and understanding, and bringing the resources together to help us all heal.”

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Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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