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The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

BREAKING NEWS: Simmons students arrested at pro-Palestine solidarity encampment

The pro-Palestine solidarity encampment calls for Northeastern University to “denounce genocide, disclose financial ties, divest, and drop the charges against student organizers.”
Mieke Riddlebarger

Three Simmons students were arrested at a pro-Palestine solidarity encampment on Northeastern’s Boston campus early Saturday morning on April 27.

The pro-Palestine solidarity encampment calls for Northeastern University to “denounce genocide, disclose financial ties, divest, and drop the charges against student organizers,” according to Huskies for a Free Palestine’s Instagram (@hfp.neu). 

According to political science alum, Mieke Riddlebarger, there was a call for support put out on social media around 9:30 p.m. Friday night at the encampments due to a possible police raid. Riddlebarger then contacted their friends at Simmons to join them.

Riddlebarger arrived at the encampments at 10 p.m. and stayed until about 1 a.m. on Saturday. In an interview with the Voice, they recall there being a counter-protest of pro-Israel individuals chanting “kill the Jews.” 

Northeastern University officials claimed this statement “crossed the line,” thus allegedly leading to the raid of the encampments. The university also stated on its Instagram story that “students who produced a valid Northeastern ID were released.”

“There was like immediate backlash from the crowd [to the counter-protest],” Riddlebarger explained, “[The organizers] like continuously would remind the crowd not to engage.”

“There was no antisemitism perpetuated by the [pro-Palestinean] organizers, by the students that I witnessed,” said Riddlebarger, who recalled seeing ‘Jews for Palestine’ pins and signs within the encampment.

According to a post by @hfp.neu, a “credible source” informed them that a moving company was hired to “assist state police.” The caption added that they believed “[the moving company] were hired to collect our belongings after a planned raid and sweep of our camp.”

Police cars near the encampment (Audrey Grant)

Michelle Bozzi, a graduate student in the Master’s in Public Policy Program at Simmons, attended the encampments on Friday night for approximately two hours. Bozzi describes seeing protesters being encouraged to relocate onto Forsyth Street, as well as being directed to “various areas around campus where police and moving trucks were blocking off.” 

After the video footage surfaced, the Boston Globe reported that “Northeastern had incorrectly blamed the pro-Palestinian demonstrators for the statement to justify the police action.” 

The Voice interviewed two individual Simmons students who were at the encampments and arrested. For their privacy, they will be referred to as Student A and Student B. 

Student A recalled prepping the encampment for the potential raid they were warned about by using interlocked chairs to block entrances, “it was a deterrent and to slow [the police] down.” They also recalled organizers reassuring those involved in the protest that if it was not safe for them to stay, they did not have to. 

Protesters link arms (Audrey Grant)

At around 3:30 a.m., Student A was awoken by the news that the police department was on its way. “So we circled up,” they said. “We linked arms, and then we were chanting until [the police] showed up around 5:30 a.m.” According to Student A, the police said, “If you do not want to be arrested, please leave.” Allegedly, very few people left. 

The police fenced off the protesters at the encampment. Then, the moving company removed the chairs and protesters’ belongings, as well as unopened water bottles, food, and supplies. Student B said that “[the police] removed all the legal observers and removed the medics and put them behind barricades.” Student B feared that the police would become violent due to the removal of the legal observers. 

Student B recalls the police telling protesters that being arrested “wasn’t worth it.” They also added that a fellow protester needed medical attention, but “[the Boston police department] held medics back. Eventually, the medics were able to get through.”

“[The police] were trying to get us out of there as quickly and quietly as possible,” Student A reflected. Around 6:30 to 7:00 a.m., the police started to take protesters out of the circle for arrests. 

“They assorted us into a classroom to do preliminary processing,” said Student A, “they kept trying to convince us to leave.” Protesters were put into police vans after preliminary processing, separated by their gender stated on their IDs. 

Once at the jail, Student A recalled getting their mugshot taken, but not being fingerprinted. Both Students said they weren’t able to use the bathroom. Student B estimated that they weren’t able to use the bathroom for about thirteen hours. 

Two hours after arriving at the jail, Student A said they were “bailed out by the Massachusetts Bail Fund,” and did not disclose their charges. Student B said they were released at 12:30 p.m. and charged with trespassing. Student B was “directed to legal support” and “connected with the National Guild of Lawyers.”                                                                                                                  

Riddlebarger emphatically stated that “the community that was there was really peaceful, really well organized. I felt extremely safe around the people who were there.” Student B also emphasized that “[the encampment] has been peaceful the entire time.”

A protester writes in chalk (Mieke Riddlebarger)

Another protest attendee, who will be referred to as Student C for privacy reasons, reflected on the encampment: “The feeling of being in those encampments is indescribable. You really feel a sense of community. And aside from that one incident that was caused by agitators being there, it is incredibly peaceful, and it’s really moving to be in there. It’s a huge show of solidarity and community. And I hate that they’re being demonized like they are in the media.”

If you were arrested at Northeastern University on Saturday, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is “organizing volunteer lawyers to help people in court at their first appearances,” according to an Instagram post. To reach the NLG, one can call 617-433-8353 or email with their name, court date, charges, and, if applicable, their school.  

The Venmo account liberate-neu is taking donations from those interested in contributing to the bail fund for those who were arrested. 

The interview with Mieke Riddlebarger was conducted by Julia Rush, the Arts & Entertainment Editor.

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About the Contributor
Grace Tamborella
Grace Tamborella, News Editor
Grace Tamborella (2024, she/her) is a Journalism major with minors in Integrated Media and Radio. She is from the South Shore of Massachusetts. She loves her pets, music, traveling, and being involved in student-driven media!

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