Johns Hopkins University Arrested Students After Month-long On-Campus Protests

Almost a month after students at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) began occupying the school’s administrative building in protest, seven JHU students were arrested on Wednesday, May 9.

The Baltimore Police Department told The Baltimore Sun they arrested five people for trespassing and two other people for impeding vehicle traffic. Student protestors told the publication that authorities arrested two undergraduate students, two graduate students, and three community members.

The protesters have occupied Garland Hall since April 3, demanding that the university end its three contracts, worth more than $1.7 million, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The contracts are for educational programs at JHU’s medical school wherein ICE provides medical training and leadership education. The contracts are set to end by the end of 2019.

The JHU Garland Occupation, organized by Students Against Private Police and the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE, are also protesting a private police force initiative on campus, WJZ-TV reported. The initiative follows a recently signed state law which allows JHU to establish its own campus police force, a first for a Maryland private university. The students are also demanding justice for Tyrone West, a man from Baltimore who was pulled over by police in 2013 and died of asphyxiation while being restrained, WBAL previously reported.

A spokesperson from the university told The Baltimore Sun they called the authorities to help vacate Garland Hall. "The university has gone to great lengths to support protest and free expression on campus, but the occupation of Garland Hall became a major safety risk and severely disrupted university services,” the spokesperson told the publication. “This morning, the university requested the assistance of the Baltimore City Fire Department and Baltimore Police Department to ask the protesters to vacate the property, with the offer of amnesty if they did so.”

Before the arrests, organizers from the JHU sit-in told the John Hopkins News-Letter white supremacists were attempting to enter Garland Hall. President Ronald J. Daniels sent a letter to students, parents, and faculty members on May 3 stating that protesters in Garland Hall have been causing a “number of serious health and safety issues” and ordered for the protest to end. The letter stated that university officials had to shut down the administrative building and move the services to another building. He also claimed that the staff who worked inside the building “were subject to unacceptable harassment and intimidation by protesters.”

“This is a troubling and untenable situation, and one that we must work together to bring to an end,” Daniels wrote. Daniels also claimed that he spoke with protesters before they occupied the building. He said he would be willing to meet with students before final exams, but said the students occupying Garland Hall must leave.

“At the beginning of the occupation, I talked directly with the protesters about their demands. I discussed why the university holds the position that it does on the need for a sworn university police department and the paramount role of our faculty in pursuing sponsored research and training contracts — even in cases where they decide to work with an agency like ICE that has been subject to vociferous criticism,” Daniels wrote.

The JHU Garland Occupation wrote their own letter and posted it the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE Facebook page. The organizers slammed President Daniels letter and called his letter “deceptive.”

“Rather than taking responsibility for the harm inflicted on our community, President Daniels and his administration have chosen to willfully ignore our concerns while directing the vast resources of the university to further entrench a climate of fear, intimidation, and surveillance,” the protesters wrote.

The North Star has reached out to the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE but did not hear back in time for publication. The protesters stated that Daniels misinformed the university community that he had “repeatedly requested to meet” with protesters. The organizers demanded that Daniels start negotiations. “President Daniels claims that he will not meet with us until we end the occupation and vacate Garland. However, he has refused to meet with several student groups long before the start of the occupation,” the letter read.

“Therefore, we reject his caveat that we vacate the building as a condition of negotiation. We stand by our position that departure is not an option until the terms of our negotiations are met.”

In a Facebook post on Thursday, May 9, the JHU Sit-in thanked their supporters a day after Garland Hall was vacated.

"As previously said, the university's response of calling 100 heavily armed police, including bomb squad officers, on 6 peaceful protesters, was a haunting premonition of what a private police force would look like on this campus: context and nuance lost, replaced with reckless lust for physical control and weaponized fear," the organizers wrote.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.