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Pro-Palestinian protesters at Case Western blasted with paint; university president, Mayor Bibb speak out

In World
May 08, 2024

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Pro-Palestinian demonstrators were covered in paint at Case Western Reserve University on Tuesday morning.

University President Eric Kaler in a Wednesday statement he was “disturbed” by footage of the incident, which was posted to Instagram.

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The video shows contractors hired to paint at the university covering several students in paint Tuesday morning.

“We had just put up beautiful Pro-Palestinian art and at 5 a.m. Tuesday, they told them to come in and cover it up and they spray painted over two students and a passerby that were trying to guard the wall,” said student JD Harrison.

Harrison said the encampment will continue on the Kelvin Smith Library Oval as their protest enters its eighth day.

On Tuesday afternoon, the university said it was investigating an incident in which one or more protesters blocking the spirit wall were hit by paint.

Kaler on Monday said protesters had painted an advocacy wall near Eldred Hall with threatening and anti-Semitic language and later painted the spirit wall near Thwing Center with intimidating language.

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The university then painted over both. But Kaler in a Wednesday morning statement said he was “deeply sorry” about the students’ treatment. The statement reads, in part:

I have reviewed video footage, which depicts students blocking the wall as a third-party contractor spray painted directly onto protesters as he attempted to finish painting the wall, and I am disturbed by what occurred.

Let me be clear: No students — or any individuals — should ever be treated this way, especially on a campus where our core values center on providing a safe, welcoming environment. This is not who we are as an institution, and I am deeply sorry this ever occurred.

The university will continue to fully investigate these actions and hold individuals responsible for this behavior, including the failure of our own officers to intervene.

Again, I want to reiterate my sincere regret for this incident. As with any violation of our codes of conduct, we will take action to hold them accountable.

Case Western Reserve University President Eric Kaler

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Police Chief Annie Todd also issued a joint statement on Wednesday that suggests protesters faced “criminal interference” with their First Amendment rights. The statement reads, in part:

Cleveland is a city for everyone, and we must respect the thoughts, feelings, and voices of those who come from various backgrounds. These diverse perspectives are what makes us special, and ultimately stronger, as a city. Our community deserves venues where they have the ability to constitutionally express their opinions openly without fear of criminal interference.

We support 1st Amendment rights and implore CWRU leadership to consider this and think about how the decisions they make and the actions they take – especially against those who are abiding by the law – will influence some of the progress we have collectively made as a city. At the same time, we urge individuals to demonstrate peacefully.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Police Chief Dorothy ‘Annie’ Todd

The statement reiterates that city police stand ready to support the university if demonstrations turn violent.

The campus’ protest encampment is now in its 10th day.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to Fox 8 Cleveland WJW.

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