Updated May 1, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House Republicans to grill D.C. officials on GWU encampment

Tents on George Washington University's campus with a sign saying "JUST SAY NO TO GENOCIDE JOE"

A pro-Palestinian encampment at George Washington University on April 25. Photo: Allison Bailey/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

A Republican-led House committee is planning to hold a hearing next week scrutinizing Washington, D.C., officials for not clearing a pro-Palestinian encampment at George Washington University.

Why it matters: It's part of a House-wide effort by House Republicans to crack down on the demonstrations erupting at college campuses across the country.

Driving the news: The hearing, first reported by the GW Hatchet, will be held next Wednesday, a committee spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith are being invited to testify, the spokesperson said.
  • Bowser said she was still reviewing the invitation to attend the hearing. "The city will definitely have a response," she said.
  • Several Republicans on the committee plan to meet with GWU leadership to tour the campus this Wednesday, the committee said in an advisory.

Context: The GWU encampment sprang up last week after similar protests broke out at Columbia University and other colleges in protest of Israel's war effort in Gaza.

  • As with other colleges, GWU has threatened students with suspension if they do not disband the encampment — but it remained as of Wednesday afternoon.

What they're saying: Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said his panel is "deeply concerned" that D.C. police "rejected George Washington University's request for help in removing the radical, antisemitic and unlawful protestors occupying the campus and surrounding public lands."

  • MPD's refusal to assist GWU in their efforts to protect the Jewish student body is "disturbing and unacceptable," he said, vowing to "seek answers from local leaders on steps being taken to ensure this unlawful activity ends."
  • A spokesperson for Democrats on the committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The other side: Bowser said she is in "constant communication with GW officials." She declined to specify what she discussed with them in a meeting on Tuesday.

  • "I haven't ever turned down requests for help. We support all of our employers, all of our universities," Bowser said, adding that the Metropolitan Police Department will enforce "the laws of the District of Columbia."
  • GWU's campus police is taking the lead on the response, MPD said in a statement.
  • "MPD will continue to monitor this First Amendment activity, both on and off GWU property," the department said. "This activity has remained peaceful."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with quotes from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD and with the status of the encampment.

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