Protester arrested twice after police clear out pro-Palestine encampment at UNC Charlotte

CHARLOTTE — A student has been arrested twice after police cleared out a pro-Palestine encampment at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The first incident began on campus around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The UNCC student who was arrested Tuesday morning, James Farrell, was rearrested later in the evening during another protest.

He is back in jail and faces a new charge of second-degree trespassing.

Morning protests

Videos posted to the Instagram account @unccencampment show what looks like officers clearing out the encampment in the morning.

Channel 9 crews were there as officers hauled tents out of the area.

In a message sent Tuesday morning, the chancellor said the protesters violated several university buildings when they “chose to erect tents, fencing, displays, and other structures.”

“These actions are not free speech; they disrupt campus operations and pose a threat to campus safety,” Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber wrote.

Gaber also announced by 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, a student ID card would be needed to access any campus buildings. The precautionary measure was put in place to ensure final exams can continue uninterrupted should protests occur later Tuesday, she said.

“What began as peaceful protesting has transitioned over the past several days to intentionally and repeatedly violating University policy, despite repeated warnings,” Gaber’s letter reads.

UNC Charlotte said it respects and values free expression. However, expression must be conducted within a reasonable time, place, and manner as established in law and university policy.

“So when they did the protests, they usually kept it in this field right here,” said student Brandon Funderburk. “And they’d kept it out of the sidewalks and everything. So it didn’t really become an obligation to me, like an obstacle in any way.”

The students who Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz spoke with said they don’t mind the protests but appreciate the safety precautions.

“It’s all about safety, I guess,” Funderburk said. “And I’m glad they’re being safe and make sure everyone else is safe. So I respect that.”

According to a spokesperson with UNC Charlotte, campus police officers found “various concerning items” after the encampment was cleared, including “knives, box cutters, a collection of baseball-sized rocks, and a mattress that was used to collect and store feces.”

Evening protests

A couple dozen protesters emerged later in the evening to support Palestine.

As protesters chanted through campus, one yelled, pulled out her phone, and informed the group she was notified she was suspended.

Unmasking Mobs and Criminals Bill

Lawmakers in Raleigh introduced the Unmasking Mobs and Criminals Bill, which could make wearing masks during protests illegal.

Sen. Buck Newton, R-District 4, wants to repeal the state law, which allows people to wear a mask to ensure the health and safety of others.

After the bill was heard in committee Tuesday, Newton told reporters this is in response to people using masks to conceal their identities in public.

Chapel Hill

More than 700 UNC Chapel Hill faculty and staff have signed a petition calling on the school to grant amnesty to pro-Palestinian protestors facing suspension.

Some school leaders claim the flagship university undermined public trust when it called in police to remove the student encampment set up last week. That’s because they believe the protest was peaceful.

The university claims the protest damaged the quad.

More than a dozen people were arrested.

This is a developing story. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

VIDEO: Students hold pro-Palestine protests at UNC Charlotte

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

Comments on this article