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UNM encampment stands in solidarity with Palestine, other universities

This story will be updated as the protest continues.

Students, alumni, faculty and community members have been camped out at the Duck Pond since Monday, April 22 in solidarity with Palestine and students at universities nationwide.

Encampments in support of Palestine have been set up on dozens of college campuses across the U.S., leading to hundreds of student arrests, according to the New York Times. Police officers have been present at the University of New Mexico encampment for the majority of Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

The protesters are calling the University to divest from Israel, call for a ceasefire in Gaza and for the Board of Regents to employ the divestment resolution written by the UNM Law Students Against Imperialism, the UNM Muslim Student Association and the UNM College Democrats. UNM has received grants from the U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations, according to The Jewish Virtual Library.

“(UNM is) trying to pretend that there's no issue here. But it's actually the most important issue in the country right now,” Bob Anderson, a retired faculty member, said.

On Wednesday, April 24, at an Associated Students at the University of New Mexico full Senate meeting, President Garnett Stokes was asked about whether campus representatives were going to come to a compromise regarding the solidarity camp. “There are many perspectives on many complex issues, and our focus is on education,” Stokes said.

“Setting up tents and sleeping bags or an encampment of any kind is not permissible on the UNM campus, and is in violation of UAPPM Policy 2270; citations could be issued or arrests made for non-compliance,” UNM Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Cinnamon Blair said in a statement to the Daily Lobo.

Night one

Protestors at UNM marched from Zimmerman Plaza to the UNM Bookstore and concluded their march at the Duck Pond. During final speeches, activists brought camping gear to the pond and began pitching tents to set up an encampment to occupy the area overnight.

The Office of Academic Affairs released a printed notice at 6 p.m. signed by Provost James Paul Holloway, asking that by 6:30 p.m. all tents be removed from campus, per UNM policy. UNMPD officers arrived at the same time, according to protester and former student Jonathan Juarez.

“(UNMPD) officers came out and told us that we had 30 minutes until 6:30 to vacate,” Juarez said.

At approximately 7:50 p.m., NMSP officers arrived at the encampment. Following, protesters began picketing around the encampment, resisting NMSP’s attempts to dismantle the tents. They continued this for an hour and a half until NMSP left.

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“Stay together, stay tight, we’ll do this every night… disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” the protesters chanted.

The protest took place on the first day of Passover. After the police left, Jewish participants educated others about the holiday and provided matzo ball soup.

Close to midnight, the police returned to demand that they take down their tents.

Juarez, along with several other protesters, stayed overnight.

“Initially they really just started going for tents. They didn't try talking to anybody or give any warnings or tell people to disperse or anything,” Juarez said.

NMSP attempted to issue a citation to one protester but dismissed it, according to Juarez and community organizer Siihasin Hope.

NMSP returned most tents — except one that was damaged and another that was recovered by charity, according to Hope, Juarez and three other protesters who wished to remain anonymous. 

Camilla Allison, a doctoral student at UNM School of Law, said she was hopeful the protest would remain non-violent.

“I'm not basing our actions by (UNM’s) standards of what is or is not legally appropriate. We are basing our actions on our opposition to genocide,” Allison said.

Night two 

UNMPD arrived around 1 a.m., as about 15 protesters were awoken by flashlights and officers demanding that their tents be taken down. Officers presented a document stating that tents and sleeping gear should be removed immediately.

“They came up to us with their flashlights (saying) ‘We're going to confiscate those if you all don't take the camping gear off of the lot,’” Hope said.

UNMPD returned to the camp at 3:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., according to the UNM Palestine Solidarity Camp Instagram.

The officers had mixed reactions to the protesters, according to Juarez and Hope.

“(At 3 am, the officers) were very quiet and sneaky about coming up to us. Normally they would pull up with their vehicles (to the roundabout) where we can see them and that's how we know that they're coming, (but) they actually parked far away and walked underneath the Dane Smith area, and then came out,” Hope said.

The protestors have held space at the Duck Pond encampment, providing teach-ins, altar offerings and free meals. They plan to remain there until the University divests, according to Hope.

“We are all exhausted, but we're all here because we are in solidarity with Gaza and Palestine,” Hope said. “There are people at night who are getting bombed or their children at night who are being shot at; a little bit of harassment is nothing compared to what's happening there.”

Update 4/25/2024: Night three

Around 20 protesters settled in for the night. Near midnight, two UNMPD officers walked by the encampment. The night continued without police involvement.

The protesters began the evening by placing wooden pallets under their materials and covering them with a tarp to protect them from the sprinklers. The encampment provided food, bug spray and toiletries to protesters, entirely donated by students

Update 4/26/2024: Night four, day five 

UNMPD officers arrived at about 10 p.m. on the night of Thursday, April 25, delivering notices identical to ones delivered to protesters previously, asking that camping gear be removed immediately. The date on the notices has not been updated since Tuesday, April 23. As of midnight, about 13 people planned to spend the night.

UNMPD left and did not return until around 7:30 a.m., according to Dakota Steele, a protester who spent the night. At 7:30 a.m., officers asked them to take down the two tents they had set up.

On Friday, April 26 at around 2 p.m., UNMPD officers returned to the Duck Pond. They removed all sleeping bags, tents and other camping gear, loading it into a truck to be taken to the UNM police station, as seen on a UNM Palestine Solidarity Camp Instagram livestream.

Protestors, including Juarez, said they would collect their materials from UNMPD or get more and return to the camp with them.

“And then we’ll take it again,” UNMPD Lieutenant Patrick Burk replied when removing gear at 2 p.m.

On behalf of the Faculty for Justice in Palestine at New Mexico Highlands University, Jess Goldberg and other members issued a statement to Stokes and Holloway, expressing solidarity with the encampment.

The statement calls for a divestment from Israel and that students in the encampment not be met with violence from the police. “The expression of solidarity with those on the UNM campus is grounded in our ongoing solidarity with the people of Gaza in their resistance against genocide,” the statement reads.

“The leaders of our state institutions have a moral obligation to reject invoking state violence – as embodied by police departments, whether affiliated with a municipality, county, state or individual institution – as a response to student encampments,” the statement reads.

Update 4/28/2024: Night five

On Friday, April 26, UNMPD officers arrived at the encampment close to midnight, telling protestors to remove sleeping bags and not to sleep at the Duck Pond. Lieutenant Guadalupe Guevara and about seven other officers scanned the site with flashlights. 

Officers delivered printed notices with similar language as the previous days. The difference was that the portion of the text reading the UNM policy was highlighted in yellow.  

“We have to enforce the rule. If there’s people who are in sleeping bags who are sleeping here, we enforce that campus-wide,” Guevara told protestors.   

UNMPD confiscated one sleeping bag.  

“You can come all night long. We will be awake,” Juarez replied. 

Police returned to the campsite at 2 a.m., shining flashlights around the encampment, counting sleeping areas and informing protesters they would return to ensure no one was in sleeping bags, according to the UNM Palestine Solidarity Encampment Instagram

“I am trying to give you an education about what the policy is and you guys are just doing whatever you want,” Guevara told protesters, who began chanting “Free, free Palestine.”

Update 4/28/2024: Night six

Between Saturday 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m., UNMPD cars parked near the camp, turning on their high beams and sirens in regular intervals, according to the UNM Palestine Solidarity Encampment Instagram.

On Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m., UNMPD confiscated a tent pole from the encampment.

Around 11 p.m., UNMPD returned to the encampment to perform a walk-through. Two protesters who were playing musical instruments were knocked to the ground by police officers, according to Hope and two protesters who asked to remain anonymous.

“He attempted to move forward whether I was there or not … I got knocked backwards,” an anonymous protester said.

The protesters had a movie night where they set up lanterns, tarps and a projector to watch “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.”

At 3:08 a.m., UNMPD came to check on sleeping bags and other items, according to the UNM Palestine Solidarity Camp Instagram.

“They were just coming through really aggressively, trying to grab people's stuff as usual. They came every hour and then we chased them out every single time,” Hope said.

Update 4/29/2024 12:30 a.m.: Night seven

UNMPD arrived at the encampment on Sunday, around 7:45 p.m. giving notices to protesters, according to the UNM Palestine Solidarity Camp Instagram.

At 11 p.m., one UNMPD car arrived. At the time of publication at 12:30 a.m., the officers have remained in their cars and have not approached the encampment.

“(The officers) come up (to the encampment) with usually about six of them, and they'll (give) notices throughout the entire (encampment). They'll give anyone with a sleeping bag or a tent or anything on that list of confiscated items and (give them the) notice,” Juarez said. “Then two to three hours later, they come back to enforce that so anyone who is given that notice and still has those items present has (will have them) confiscated.”

About 40 protesters were present at the encampment at 12:30 a.m. The encampment has grown in size and with more donations since Monday.

“There are a lot of students that have eyes on what's happening across the country, and are making their academic decisions for where they go to higher education based on how campuses respond to these protests. So you have a lot of students saying that universities that are supportive and are protecting students’ right to free speech – those are going to be at the top of their list versus some of these ones who have seen really violent responses,” Juarez said. 

Paloma Chapa is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @paloma_chapa88

Ella Daniel is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @ella_daniel7.

Lelia Chapa contributed reporting to this article. 

Editors note 4/25/2024: This article has been updated to reflect all of the authors of the  divestment resolution.

Paloma Chapa

Paloma Chapa is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @paloma_chapa88

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