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Emory Police issue warnings amid vandalism on campus over weekend

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — It was a busy Sunday on Emory’s campus as protestors gathered to resume peaceful demonstrations of pro-Palestinian protests.

Over the weekend, there was a call for the community to come out and have food and games.

But hours earlier, the peaceful demonstrations took a turn.

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Several people were issued warnings for trespassing from Saturday night’s criminal activity on campus.

Emory police were called out late at night after some demonstrators vandalized campus property, painting hateful messages on several buildings and structures.

On Sunday, Emory Police issued a statement about Saturday night’s vandalism:

Emory police officers on Sunday issued criminal trespass warnings to six individuals suspected in last night’s criminal activity on campus. None of the individuals are affiliated with Emory. They were all escorted off campus property.

On Saturday, a group of individuals disrupted peaceful protests and vandalized several campus structures, including spray-painting hateful messages on Convocation Hall.

The police investigation into this incident continues and further charges may be pending.

Chief Burt Buchtinec thanked the community members who alerted police with descriptions of the individuals.

—  Message from the Emory Police Department

“I think that protecting and advocating for human lives is really important but I’m also concerned that some people take it as another reason to spread hatred,” said Caitlin Williams, an Emory student.

Even more, protestors were shocked telling Channel 2′s Elizabeth Rawlins that they disagreed with aggressive and destructive demonstrations.

“I think it’s really important to teach our kids that we can come out and be together in the community,” said Sarah Meng, a protestor.

While Saturday night’s violence was not one of those teachable moments, Rawlins spoke with an Emory professor who said regardless, the last four days have been a valuable learning experience.

“It’s been tense on campus but I think people are having productive conversations,” said Williams.

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The president of Emory University issued a statement on Sunday following the turn of events in the weekend protests on Emory’s campus.

Dear Emory Community,

On Friday and again yesterday, hundreds of students and faculty assembled peacefully on our Atlanta campus for student-led protests. Our open expression team worked closely with the student organizers of the events to facilitate their peaceful expression, and that partnership worked as it is supposed to.

That changed last night.

Late in the evening, as students and faculty were assembled on the Quad, several individuals rapidly approached Convocation Hall and spray-painted hateful messages on the building’s exterior walls. Several other structures were also vandalized. These individuals brazenly disrupted what had been a peaceful protest. Many on the Quad, including those participating in the protest, condemned the action as the work of individuals from outside our community. Last night’s incidents follow similar vandalism that occurred on the Quad last Monday. The Emory Police Department is coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to investigate these crimes.

With the events of this week, it has become clear: Emory is navigating a divide between individuals who wish to express themselves peacefully and those who seek to use our campus as a platform to promote discord. Incidents like this—perpetrated by those who aim to disrupt and divide us—must be rejected and condemned at Emory.

This is a distinctly emotional and challenging time. We continue to gather the facts so that we can update you on the steps we are taking to address this week’s events. As we engage in important conversations about how we move forward, we must not allow hatred to overwhelm the many peaceful and thoughtful voices at Emory.

I am dedicated to keeping this campus safe as community members finish classes, continue their research, sit for exams, and prepare for Commencement.

—  Sincerely, Gregory L. Fenves

On Sunday evening, Rawlins photographed what appeared to be a new vandalism on the Emory University sign.

Channel 2 Action News reached out to Emory University, Emory’s president, and Emory Police Department for updated statements on Sunday evening’s vandalism.

We are waiting to hear back.

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