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Pro-Palestinian protestors attempt to seize buildings at Penn, Chicago universities

By Mike Heuer

May 18 (UPI) -- Police in Philadelphia and Chicago ended attempts by pro-Palestinian protesters to take over buildings at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago Friday.

Protestors gathered around 8 p.m. Friday in the University City area of West Philadelphia and entered Penn's Fisher-Bennett Hall at Walnut and 34th streets local media reported.

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Penn Gaza Solidarity members said they intended to occupy the university building before police arrived.

University police and Philadelphia Police stopped the attempted takeover and arrested several protesters, some of whom fought with police.

University officials said 19 people were arrested, including six Penn students.

A dozen of those arrested received citations for failing to follow police commands and disperse, while another seven remained in custody on felony charges, including one for assaulting a police officer.

A university spokesperson said police officers found tools for picking locks and homemade metal shields.

Exits were secured with barbed wire and zip ties and barricaded with desks and metal chairs, while newspaper and cardboard covered windows.

The protestors also used bike racks and metal chairs to create makeshift barriers to block the outside entrances.

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Shortly before the attempted takeover at Penn, pro-Palestinian protestors briefly occupied the Institute of Politics building at the University of Chicago's campus in Hyde Park.

Some protesters wore face masks, goggles and helmets as they surrounded the building at about 5 p.m. and used chairs to barricade entrances on one side.

The protesters sprayed paint on security cameras and hung a banner listing demands, which include the university divesting itself of any investments in entities supporting or doing business in Israel.

Another banner declared "bring the intifada home," the Chicago Tribute reported.

University and Chicago police cleared the building by 6 p.m. There is no indication of how many protesters, if any, were arrested.

The attempted takeover happened during the start of the university's alumni weekend.

Protesters included students and alumni, one of whom identified himself as a member of a group calling itself the University of Chicago Alumni for Palestine.

The attempted takeover happened during the university's alumni weekend, and protesters included students and alumni, one of whom identified himself as a member of a group calling itself the University of Chicago alumni for Palestine.

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