WSU students against genocide

May 31, 2024

Signs at the WSU demo. Photo: Susan Van Gelder for News and Letters Committees

I was invited to go with some friends to add an elders’ presence at the Wayne State University students’ encampment on May 28 at 3:00 PM, when they expected either the police would break up their camp or a University spokesperson would meet with them.


The University spokesperson came to speak to the students about taking down the encampment. The president was ready to meet them as soon as they did. They said no. The spring-summer semester had begun that day but the University put the campus on remote, claiming a threat to public safety.

Michigan 12th District Congressional Representative Rashida Tlaib was there with her young boys. “Open the campus!” she called, and demanded an end to suppressing the students’ freedom of speech. I took photos of people conversing, painting signs, getting food. There was no smoke except from the kitchen and no trash on the grounds. Several students were setting up a library of books, pamphlets and newspapers. I added a Marxist–Humanist statement on the war against Gaza.

At 6:00 AM today (May 29) the encampment was still there.

WSU encampment participants. Photo: Susan Van Gelder for News and Letters Committees

Students welcomed supporters. I mentioned that a library had been set up early on during Occupy Wall Street in New York. One young woman said that Occupy Wall Street was one of her earliest political memories. I had a great conversation with a young Black man, J., about the question of Black Congressional representation. He said many in the Black Community felt that because the 12th District (now Tlaib’s District) had been John Conyers’ it should have Black representation in Congress. I said that Black representation was important, and so was the demonstrated philosophy in action of the current representative. We agreed that Rashida Tlaib had shown that she was with the people.  

–Susan Van Gelder

2 thoughts on “WSU students against genocide

  1. Sadly at 5:30 am. Wayne State University Police broke down the encampment 2 days later. They destroyed and removed tents and forced the students onto the sidewalk of a busy street bordering the campus. There, the Detroit Police Department has jurisdiction to enforce city ordinances, which will severely limit what they can do and make it harder for the protesters to engage with the rest of the students

  2. The students might have decided that in any meeting with the administrators, they would need leverage. Their leverage is the protest encampment itself, which is bringing media heat on the university president.

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