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Clio Hall occupation ends in 13 arrests, sit-in relocates to Cannon Green

A man with a black shirt with white text that says "Jews say Ceasefire now" is in handcuffs.
Ariel Munzcek Edelman GS is arrested by police.
Calvin Grover / The Daily Princetonian

Thirteen people were arrested after briefly occupying Clio Hall late Monday afternoon, marking a drastic escalation of pro-Palestine protests on campus since the beginning of a sit-in in McCosh Courtyard on Thursday morning. Clio is home to Princeton University Graduate School administration, and is directly south of Nassau Hall.

While protesters were inside the building, approximately 200 people initially gathered outside both the front and back of Clio, chanting and banging on buckets. The back of Clio was blocked off by Public Safety (PSAFE) officers, but was opened periodically to allow administrators, guided by PSAFE, to exit the building. 

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According to an Instagram post from Princeton Israeli Apartheid Divest (PIAD), protesters occupied Dean of the Graduate School Rodney Priestley’s office to force the University to negotiate. The post read, “Princeton has refused to bargain over our demands through any channels of communication since October. We are taking our demands directly to administration to force Princeton to the table NOW!”

The Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW) reported that Aditi Rao GS yelled, “I got arrested so we could get a meeting,” as she left Clio Hall.

This move comes after five days of a pro-Palestine sit-in in McCosh Courtyard, with divestments from companies with ties to Israel first on the list of demands. Protesters have otherwise avoided being in violation of University policy since two graduate students were arrested on the first day of protests. 

There have been no public statements by the University on disassociation. At a concurrent meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Committee (CPUC), Resource Committee Chair John Groves, a chemistry professor, shared that the committee had received a number of emails and phone calls. The Resources Committee deals with the University’s investments.  

The committee acknowledges receipt to any individuals and groups bringing issues to the committee before providing information on next steps in a timely manner, according to its website. 

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“At the current pace, we haven’t had a chance to meet,” Groves said. 

Around 4:30 p.m., a large group of protesters left McCosh courtyard and headed towards Frist Campus Center before turning right and continuing to Elm Drive, where they marched to Clio Hall.

At least 15 protesters, including professor of African American Studies Ruha Benjamin, entered Clio at 5:23 p.m. Benjamin and classics professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta exited Clio at 5:30 p.m.

Benjamin and Padilla Peralta are two of six faculty members who requested a special faculty meeting in light of the sit-in.

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Also around 5:30 p.m., PSAFE warned people inside Clio Hall that they would be arrested regardless of their University status if they did not leave the building, including two student journalists, POLITICO NJ editorial intern Katie Dailey ’24 and WPRB 103.3 station manager Adam Sanders ’25. Dailey and Sanders exited the building shortly thereafter.

Dailey is a Managing Editor emeritus for the ‘Prince.’

A man in a white graphic muscle tee walks with his hands behind his back while two police officers grab each of his arms in black and orange uniforms. Many people stand around them.
Sam Nastase, a postdoctoral researcher, is arrested.
Calvin Grover / The Daily Princetonian

Several dozen protesters locked arms to block the front doors of Clio to potentially prevent PSAFE from exiting with arrestees. They eventually moved away from the doors, allowing PSAFE to exit with two people, who were moved to a TigerTransit bus parked on Elm Drive at the side of Clio Hall. The two protesters were identified by the PAW as Ariel Munczek Edelman GS, a masters of public affairs student, and Sam Nastase, a researcher in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. The Daily Princetonian has independently verified their identities.

“Princeton, you want arrests. This doesn’t end without divest,” protesters in the back of Clio chanted.

Many people surround a black and orange Princeton bus from the front and side of it.
Protestors surround the TigerTransit bus.
Calvin Grover / The Daily Princetonian

A large group of protesters then gathered in front of and around the bus where Edelman and Nastase were held, blocking its path up Elm Drive, banging on its windows, and yelling, “Let them go.” Some wedged green safety cones in the back left wheel of the bus. Large groups of protesters remained stationed at the front and back of Clio, and others encircled a PSAFE car parked in front of the building.

By 6:26 p.m., 11 people remained inside Clio Hall, and four police vehicles from the Municipality of Princeton appeared on the scene, as well as at least two unmarked vehicles.

“We’re here to support Princeton University,” Princeton Police Chief Jon Bucchere said about the presence of town police in an interview with the ‘Prince.’

After 30 minutes of chaos outside the bus, associate history professor Max Weiss, came to the front with a megaphone and addressed the crowd. 

“Here is the situation,” Weiss shouted. “If you don’t trust me, do not do what I say. If you trust me and Zia Mian and the Faculty for Justice in Palestine, consider the following.”

Weiss then asked for the road to be cleared in order for the students on the bus to be released with summonses, to which people began chanting “we keep us safe” and calling for disciplinary charges to be dropped. The crowd did not budge. Director of PSAFE Kinamo Lomon repeated the warning at 6:41 pm. Weiss urged protesters blocking the bus to disperse, but added, “Do what you want.”

At 6:47 p.m., Weiss and Zia Mian, the co-director of Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, stepped onto the bus. After a few minutes, they stepped off.

At 6:50 p.m., Edelman and Nastase were released from the bus to cheers and shouts from the crowd.

Less than 20 minutes later, PSAFE officers blocked the back doors to Clio. Around the same time, the doors to PSAFE Headquarters at 200 Elm Drive appeared to be locked. 

On the steps of Clio, 75 protesters remained, yelling, “Hold your ground” in response to requests from Weiss and others to clear the area. At the back entryway, a smaller group of protesters linked arms to prevent passage. One speaker said that they had heard from the protesters inside that they should not leave until all charges were dropped. When protest organizers said that students blocking the door were not at risk of arrest, a crowd of students ascended the front steps.

In three batches, all of the protesters inside Clio were periodically released through the front to shouts from the crowd. “We made history,” chanted protestors in the front.

According to an official near the bus, the deadline for the arrested individuals on the bus to turn themselves into PSAFE Headquarters was 7:30 p.m. Edelman was seen outside of 200 Elm Drive at that time.

David Piegaro ’25, who was not participating in the main protest, was arrested outside of Whig Hall, located just east of Clio. He arrived at 200 Elm Drive at 8:03 p.m. It is unclear whether he was involved in counterprotests. He was called an “outside agitator” by Weiss. Witnesses claim Piegaro was pushed down the stairs of Whig. He was seen handcuffed while face-down on the ground at the front of the building.

At 9:09 p.m., PSAFE officers arrived outside 200 Elm Drive to escort the four arrested students who turned themselves in to their dorms. “Alright everyone, cameras on. Who wants to go first?” an officer said. Students had ten minutes to grab items from their dorm that they needed. 

People gather on lawn in front of brownish-red brick building.
Protesters moved from McCosh courtyard to Cannon Green on Monday evening.
Louisa Gheorghita / The Daily Princetonian

Hours after the crowd dispersed, with many protesters continuing the sit-in on Cannon Green, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 called the protest “completely unacceptable” in a statement emailed to the University community.

“All those arrested received summonses for trespassing and have been barred from campus. The students will also face University discipline, which may extend to suspension or expulsion,” he wrote. 

Protesters responded, with a marshal for the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” saying, “We're going to make sure that President Eisgruber understands that we are here to stay.”

The ‘Prince’ has verified the identities of six individuals who were arrested for occupying Clio Hall: postdoctoral researcher Sam Nastase, Ariel Munzcek Edelman GS, Aditi Rao GS, Christian Bischoff ’19 GS, Khari Franklin ’24, and Sara Ryave ’24. 

Following the occupation of Clio, Columbia University pro-Palestine protesters have begun occupying Hamilton Hall, the same building where civil rights protesters demonstrated in the 1960s.

The ‘Prince’ will continue live updates of the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” See coverage from days one, two, three, four, and five.

Olivia Sanchez is an associate News editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from New Jersey and often covers the graduate school and academic departments.

Miriam Waldvogel is an associate News editor and the investigations editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from Stockton, Calif. and often covers campus activism and University accountability.

Bridget O’Neill is a head News editor for the ‘Prince’ from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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