The Department of Public Safety arrested 20 Jewish students who participated in a sit-in at University Hall Wednesday evening. The students, who entered earlier that afternoon, refused to willingly leave the building until President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 publicly committed to “include and support a divestment resolution in the next meeting of the Brown Corporation,” the University’s highest governing body, The Herald previously reported.
The students were escorted out of the building by police officers and brought to police transport vans owned by the Providence Police Department, which were parked outside the Van Wickle Gates. Police began arresting students around 5:45 p.m. and continued through the next hour.
The students were released from police custody Wednesday evening and have an expected court date on Nov. 28, organizers told The Herald.
“After offering students every opportunity for a different outcome, Brown issued multiple trespass warnings and ultimately moved forward in arresting approximately 20 (students) who refused to leave a campus building where their presence after operating hours posed security concerns,” University Spokesperson Brian Clark wrote in an email to The Herald.
Hundreds of students stood on either side of University Hall during the hour before the arrests, shining phone flashlights and singing in unison. Throughout the sit-in, which was organized by a new student group, BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now, supporters had sat outside the building singing Jewish songs and prayers “in solidarity with the activists inside of University Hall,” speakers announced earlier in the afternoon.
The songs continued throughout the arrests. Students lined the walkway from the back of University Hall to the Van Wickle Gates as police officers placed students in zip-ties or handcuffs and escorted them to the vans parked on Prospect Street. Lit by dozens of camera flashes as students recorded the events on their phones, arrested students joined the crowd’s singing of a Jewish prayer. They continued to sing while in the vans.
The arrests concluded a day of protest at the University that began when students gathered on the steps of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center in a walkout organized by Brown Students for Justice in Palestine calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Protesters also called for the University to divest from “Israel and the military-industrial complex” and for the University to “protect students from intimidation, doxxing and harassment for their Palestine activism,” according to SJP’s demands.
Over 400 walkout attendees then circled University Hall, carrying signs and chanting protest slogans. Jews for Ceasefire Now organizers then announced the sit-in, which had already begun.
When asked about the group’s plan for the sit-in, organizer Mica Maltzman ’25 said that they were “prepared to stay here.” Organizers told The Herald at the time they had dozens of students prepared to support the 20 students in University Hall, “whether it’s for one day or if it's for three weeks.”
During the sit-in, Clark wrote that University administrators “were committed to ensuring that the students fully understood that they would not be allowed to remain in the building after normal operating hours for security reasons, and that they could face disciplinary action” for violating University policies, as well as “arrest for trespass after the close of business.”
The University’s protest and demonstration policy states that “protest is a necessary and acceptable means of expression within the Brown community.” It goes on to state that “protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others … or that interfere with the rights of others to make use of or enjoy the facilities or attend the functions of the University cannot be tolerated.”
Failure to follow the University’s code of conduct can lead to disciplinary action, including “civil and criminal charges” in some circumstances, according to a letter sent to the University community by Provost Francis Doyle.
“To protect the security of all community members and facilities, students cannot remain in non-residential campus buildings past the point of normal operating hours,” Clark wrote. “Brown has detailed procedures in place to investigate alleged conduct code violations, resolve them and implement discipline in instances when students are found responsible, and any additional disciplinary measures will be based on the outcome of those processes.”
The Department of Public Safety did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Clarification: This article has been updated to better reflect the number of students on the Quiet Green during arrests.
Haley Sandlow is a section editor covering science and research as well as admissions and financial aid. She is a junior from Chicago, Illinois, studying English and French.
Sam Levine is a University News editor from Brooklyn, New York overseeing the staff and student labor and on-campus activism beats. He is a junior concentrating in International and Public Affairs.