UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF students join nationwide pro-Palestine encampments, protest on the Green

Tensions were high at the University of North Florida on Tuesday as students protested in solidarity with encampments at college campuses across the U.S. in recent days and called for the university to divest from Israel. 

The protest, organized by UNF’s Students for a Democratic Society chapter, began at noon with speakers and chants. 

By 2 p.m., students constructed a standing tent and two camping tents. Students surrounded the tents and joined hands in what they called a “ring of solidarity” with other encampments at American universities, like the University of Florida, Princeton and Columbia University. 

According to The Appeal, a nonprofit news organization, police have arrested more than 1,700 people at campuses protests across the country so far, as of Wednesday.

After the tents went up on the Green, police told UNF protesters they had until 2:50 p.m. to remove them or face arrest and suspension. The protesters complied, and the tents came down.

At 2:40 p.m., Spinnaker observed about 20 police officers wearing plastic face shields arrive on bikes, but they soon left without incident. Protesters remained on the Green, shouting chants and chatting amongst themselves. 

By 7 p.m., the protest had grown to a few dozen people who sat on blankets, waved Palestinian flags and listened to more speakers. Boxes of food, snacks, water and protest signs sat around them. 

Around 9;30 p.m., a few students affiliated with various Jewish student campus organizations arrived, walked by the protest and sat on benches along the edges of the Green. The students declined to comment for this story.

Spinnaker also observed Chabad of Southside Rabbi Shmuli Novack walk by the protest around the same time, before leaving soon after. He later said he’d gotten “two dozen calls from media” and wanted to see the protest for himself before responding to them.

Ultimately, the protesters left the Green a few minutes shy of 10 p.m. 

UNF Police Chief Frank Mackesy confirmed to Spinnaker that no protesters were detained or arrested. 

Lissie Morales, a protester with SDS, confirmed to Spinnaker the group plans to return and protest from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day for the rest of the week.

A UNF spokesperson told Spinnaker: “The students were given 30 minutes to take tents down, per campus rules. The students removed tents and continued their protest. Students are allowed to protest, demonstrate, assemble or otherwise express their viewpoints on campus as long as they abide by applicable laws and university policies and regulations.”

How are other protests being met by universities?

Responses to students protesting on campuses across the U.S. have ranged from tear gas and police to the cancelation of commencement and suspensions

During a Tuesday morning press conference in Naples, Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that protesters “have a right to support or not support Israel; that’s the First Amendment.” 

“[Protesters] don’t have a right to pitch a tent in the middle of campus and commandeer some of the property,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Spinnaker previously reported that Rabbi Novack “joined” students affiliated with various Jewish organizations who arrived to watch the protest in its evening hours. That was incorrect. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information. Spinnaker apologizes for the error. 


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Carter Mudgett
Carter Mudgett, Reporter
Carter Mudgett is a University of North Florida student majoring in multimedia journalism. He was Spinnaker's editor-in-chief from August 2021 to December 2023. Carter led Spinnaker to be awarded a 2023 Online Pacemaker Award, and most recently placed second in the Society of Professional Journalists's Sunshine State Awards for "Best Coverage of LGBT Issues" in the college category. Backed by a passion for creative storytelling and accurate reporting, Carter typically covers education, gender and race issues.

Comments (0)

Spinnaker intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, slurs, defamation, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and will be removed if they do not adhere to these standards. Spinnaker does not allow anonymous comments, and Spinnaker requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All UNF Spinnaker Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *