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Detroit college suspends in-person classes because of pro-Palestinian camp

DETROIT — Wayne State University in Detroit suspended in-person classes Tuesday and encouraged staff to work remotely to avoid any problems with a pro-Palestinian encampment that sprouted last week.

“All on-campus events are canceled until further notice. Critical infrastructure workers are expected to report to campus,” the school said in a statement around 5:30 a.m.

Wayne State spokesman Matt Lockwood said there have been “public safety concerns,” especially about access to certain areas.

There were two dozen tents on green space near the undergraduate library Tuesday. Participants milled around while police and private security watched nearby. Two portable toilets were full and not usable.

“Yes, we have told the organizers to remove the encampment several times and they have declined to do so,” Lockwood said.

Wayne State has 16,000 undergraduate students but fewer during the summer term.

Protest camps sprang up across the U.S. and in Europe as students demand their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies that support its war in Gaza.

Organizers seek to amplify calls to end Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists who started the war on Oct. 7 with an invasion into southern Israel, in which 1,200 were killed and more than 250 were taken hostage. The ensuing conflict has killed at least 36,096 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its count.

Wayne State President Kimberly Andrews Espy said senior officials had offered to meet Tuesday if the camp had been cleared by Monday night but the deal was turned down. The school posted a video of the offer on YouTube.

Vice President Patrick Lindsey explained that Wayne State’s investment policy would be publicly discussed at a June 26 meeting of the university’s governing board.

The University of Michigan on May 21 broke up a similar encampment after 30 days.

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