Pro-Palestine protests have continued to escalate at Auraria campus. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), an organization of student activists, is at the forefront of these protests with encampments involving about 50 people, including students and community members. 

Harriet Falconetti, a sophomore at the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD) and treasurer for SDS, stated that their organization has been protesting around this issue since last October. 

Falconetti said that their enumerated demands include the university putting out a statement condemning the Israeli’s alleged genocide of Palestinians. The group is also calling for divestment from all corporations that operate within or with Israel and for the end of study abroad programs in Israel.

“In an email from [UCD] Chancellor Marks, she said that there have been over 30 protests, which is true and all of those have been within the bounds of their policies for the most part,” said Falconetti. “We have really been stonewalled by the university and by the administration. We think that this is a natural consequence of them refusing to come to the table with us and that they set the precedent that if we want a meeting with them then this is the kind of thing we have to engage with. This didn’t need to happen if the university engaged with us in good faith from the beginning but they never did that.”

On April 26, over 40 protesters got arrested by the Auraria Campus Police Department on charges of trespassing, including Falconetti. She claimed that when she first saw the police show up, it felt like a betrayal by the university. 

“The administration claims to stand for students and claims to be protecting the safety and civil rights of the people here,” said Falconetti. “It’s not true at all and that’s been disproven by their own actions by bringing in police.”

As a student journalist for CU Denver’s newspaper, The Sentry, she felt a layer of repression. Falconetti stated that she has continued to cover these protests for the newspaper. She stated that a reporter from Colorado Public Radio claimed that a reporter being arrested is a notch on their belt. As for the process of being arrested, she felt it was very dehumanizing as protesters were put in a dark hot van. 

“There were times I was scared,” she said. “I shared a holding cell with another community member who had also been arrested who was also transgender and that I think really helped to get me through it.”

Lucia Feast, a sophomore at Metropolitan State University of Denver who is also a member of SDS, was arrested. 

“I was one of the people that got arrested,” said Feast. “The cops showed up on Friday and brutalized us and arrested us for sitting on our campus peacefully, protesting peacefully. It’s not right, it’s not okay. We are facing charges and students should be free to say what they want to say on their own campus.”

Feast believes that their work will implement change throughout the universities in Denver. She believes that it is vitally important to fight for their cause and claims that their organization will stay even if it takes months, until their demands are met by the university. 

“We have seen it work in past movements around the world,” said Lucia Feast, a member of SDS. “This is the way that change happens. We have to make people uncomfortable. We have to make people see because, otherwise, people will look away. Getting the students’ voices heard by the universities that typically try and silence us at meetings with officials, administration, where students’ voices are silenced, we are uplifting those voices.”

“We are fighting for the rights of the people,” said Feast. “We are fighting for the liberation of all people.”

Today, protests held a sit-in at the administrative offices at Tivoli Quad. While Feast stated that she does not want things to escalate, there are numerous anti-semitic signs on campus.

One said, “The land belongs to those who nourish it, not those who poison it.”

UCD administration encouraged the students to negotiate their demands with campus leaders.

“We are encouraged by recent attempts at dialogue as well as the offer to maintain a peaceful place for protest on campus which should include sunshades and portable toilets,” said the UCD administration in a press release regarding the protests. “We encourage both campus leaders and student protestors to continue to negotiate in good faith.”

Tensions have increased on college campuses throughout the nation as Columbia University, University of Southern California, and Emory University have canceled graduation ceremonies in the midst of protests.

CORRECTION May, 17, 2024: This article initially stated, incorrectly, that Denver Police arrested the Auraria protesters. In fact, the vast majority of those arrests were made by the Auraria Campus Police Department.