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Multiple UNF students arrested after pro-Palestine protest

At least nine people were arrested when over 50 police officers marched onto the University of North Florida campus Green and broke up a pro-Palestine protest late Thursday night. 

Organized by Students for a Democratic Society, a campus activist group, the protest was in solidarity with other campus encampments across the U.S. They made similar demands that aligned with the Israel-Gaza war overseas. 

Thursday night was the protester’s third consecutive day on the Green.

They’d first arrived at noon on Tuesday with plans to set up an encampment, but police told them the campus was “closed” at 10 p.m. and a curfew had been installed. Earlier this week, they promised to return every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Both Tuesday and Wednesday passed with no arrests but that soon changed.

Thursday night, around 75 protestors remained on the Green by 9 p.m. Most left before 10 p.m., but some core SDS members, including President Marlo Crosby, remained after the curfew. 

The following is a timeline of what Spinnaker reporters saw:

10:05 p.m. Officers began walking along the edge of the Green, telling protesters, “You must leave immediately.” A small group remained sitting on the Green, with some others standing on the sidewalk between the Green and the Fine Arts Center parking garage. 

10:11 p.m. The sprinklers turned on, but it is unclear whether they usually turn on at that time or if police manually turned them on. The protesters sat through the water, and some put on jackets. 

10:21 p.m. Three officers approached the protesters sitting on the Green and appeared to give them their final warning to leave or be arrested. 

10:35 p.m. The protesters on the sidewalk were told to leave or be arrested. As they backed away, they continued to chant. 

10:36 p.m. Police officers arrived on bikes and created a half-circle perimeter around the protesters still sitting on the Green. They wore gas masks, helmets and plastic face shields. Soon after, more cops on foot arrived and lined up on the right side of the protestors. They wore full riot gear but no shields. 

10:42 p.m. Officers began an unidentifiable chant and advanced toward the protesters, tightening the circle. Protesters put their hands up, and police started methodically arresting them, one by one. The protestors’ hands were zip-tied before they were patted down and sat crisscrossed along the outside of the Fine Arts Center.  

Over in less than an hour

By 11 p.m., all the protesters were zip-tied and in custody. 

“Great job, everybody,” Spinnaker heard an officer say over the radio afterward.

Officers told protesters multiple times that the campus was closed at 10 p.m. and if they stayed past then, they’d be arrested. 

The Thomas G. Carpenter Library, right across from the Green, was open 24 hours on Thursday for finals week. Residence halls are also open until Friday. The university never announced the newly imposed curfew to students; police had only communicated it directly to the protestors.

A university spokesperson gave the following statement after the arrests:

“The University of North Florida respects the right for all to protest, demonstrate, assemble and express differing viewpoints. As we exercise our First Amendment rights, we also have the responsibility to follow applicable laws, rules and regulations.

“Consistent with the University’s enforcement of reasonable time, place and manner restrictions, demonstrators at UNF this evening were told by University Police that they needed to leave campus by 10 p.m. as they have done the previous two nights. After multiple warnings, those who refused to leave were trespassed from campus and arrested. 

The University has no additional comment at this time.”

It is unclear what protesters are being charged with and exactly how many were arrested.

According to The Appeal, a nonprofit news organization, police have arrested more than 2,200 people at campuses protests across the country so far, as of Thursday.

This is a breaking news story. Stay with Spinnaker as we continue to cover the students arrested and the university’s response.


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

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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.

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