New arrests total 19 Wednesday night as Divest UMass protest continues 

Sit-in takes over more of administration building; activists vow to continue

  • Varshini Prakash, center, invigorates protestors on the third floor of the Whitmore Administration Building during a sit-in Wednesday. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • UMass Police walk past students gathered on the third floor of the Whitmore Administration Building during a sit-in held to protest the university's investment in fossil fuels. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • Students gathered outside Whitmore Administration Building at the University of Massachusetts, Wednesday, protest the university's investment in fossil fuels. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • UMass Police tell a group of people gathered Wednesday for a sit-in protest in the Whitmore Administration Building that the building is closed and if they don't leave they will be arrested. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • A group of students outside the chancellor's office for a sit-in protest at Whitmore Administration Building take a picture Wednesday before being arrested. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • UMass Police talk to a group of students Wednesday who gathered for a sit-in protest in front of the chancellor's office at Whitmore Administration Building. The group was arrested. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • A group of students file out of Whitmore Administration Building for their arrest after a sit-in protest, Wednesday. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • A group of students who gathered for a sit-in protest in front of the chancellor's office at Whitmore Administration Building are led away for arrest Wednesday. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • Nineteen students sit in a circle outside the chancellor's office at the Whitmore Administration Building during a sit-in Wednesday held to protest the university's investment in fossil fuels. The students were later arrested. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • Students gathered outside Whitmore Administration Building at the University of Massachusetts, Wednesday, to protest the university's investment in fossil fuels, cheer for students who chose to be arrested as UMass Police escort them from the building. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • Students gathered outside Whitmore Administration Building at the University of Massachusetts, Wednesday, protest the university's investment in fossil fuels. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • UMass Police escort students who chose to be arrested during a sit-in protest at Whitmore Administration Building, Wednesday, to police cruisers. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • UMass Police escort students who chose to be arrested during a sit-in protest at Whitmore Administration Building, Wednesday, to police cruisers. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • UMass Police escort students who chose to be arrested during a sit-in protest at Whitmore Administration Building, Wednesday, to police cruisers. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • UMass Police escort students who chose to be arrested during a sit-in protest at Whitmore Administration Building, Wednesday, to police cruisers. JERREY ROBERTS

  • Students gathered outside Whitmore Administration Building at the University of Massachusetts, Wednesday, protest the university's investment in fossil fuels. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • Students gathered outside Whitmore Administration Building at the University of Massachusetts, Wednesday, to protest the university's investment in fossil fuels, cheer for students who chose to be arrested as UMass Police escort them from the building. JERREY ROBERTS—

  • UMass junior Jenny Hersh of Princeton, right, joins other Divest UMass supporters rallying outside of the Whitmore Administration Building, Wednesday, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass sophomore Marissa LaSalle, 20, of Marshfield, left, UMass sophomore Ezra Marcus, 21, of Great Barrington, and UMass sophomore Christin Howard, 19, of Great Barrington participate in a sit in for Divest UMass supporters April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • UMass senior Jasmine Bertrand-Halidy, 22, of Boston, left, serves pizza to UMass freshman Sarah Nordberg, 19, of Attleboro, during a sit in for Divest UMass supporters April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • UMass senior Joseph Dwork, 22, of Phoenix, joins other Divest UMass supporters in a sit in April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • UMass senior Danielle DaGraca, 18, of Marshfield, center, joins other Divest UMass supporters in a sit in April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Divest UMass supporters participate in a sit in April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • UMass freshman Marissa Mackson, 18, of Shrewsbury, left, participates in a sit in for Divest UMass supporters April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • UMass senior Pooja Ghosh, 22, of Philadelphia, Pa., center, serves pizza to Divest UMass supporters during a sit in April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • UMass senior Rebecca Schmidt, 21, of Chelmsford, left, and UMass junior Toby Armstrong, 21, of Lexington, participate in a sit in for Divest UMass supporters April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • UMass senior Jasmine Bertrand-Halidy, 22, of Boston, center, serves pizza to Divest UMass supporters during a sit in April 13 in the Whitmore Administration Building on campus to demand that UMass officials commit to divest from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. SARAH CROSBY/Daily Hampshire Gazette

For the Gazette
Published: 4/13/2016 4:44:39 PM

AMHERST — A sit-in demanding the University of Massachusetts divest from fossil fuels that swelled to some 250 participants by late Wednesday afternoon ended with the arrests of 19 students who did not leave the building by a 6 p.m. deadline.

It was the second straight night of arrests at the Whitmore Administration Building after 15 protesters were arrested Tuesday.

All 34 people arrested face charges of trespassing. The students arrested Tuesday received probationary terms in court Wednesday.

Organizers of Divest UMass, in a statement released Wednesday night, vowed to continue their protest “until President Martin Meehan and (trustees) Chairman Victor Woolridge release a public statement committing to full fossil fuel divestment.”

UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski issued a statement Wednesday night reiterating that Meehan and Woolridge “have said divesting direct investments in fossil fuel companies represents ‘a logical next step’ to the action UMass took last year when it divested its direct investments in coal companies. Woolridge and Meehan announced their support for the new step as UMass trustees met at UMass Dartmouth.”

Divest UMass had demanded that UMass officials commit to divesting from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“If they do not give us a decision by the end of the business day at 5 p.m., we will continue with our escalation,” Divest UMass spokesman Filipe Carvalho said.

As occupying students, professors, alumni and community members faced possible arrest by remaining in the building after its 6 p.m. closing time, supporters from around the country — including some from as far away as California and Montana — called in pizza orders to feed the UMass protesters.

Approximately 200 protesters left the building voluntarily when police issued a dispersal notice about 5:45 p.m. As they left, a group of 50 people lined the entrance to the building and chanted to show support.

“We don’t want people to have to get arrested,” said Carvalho, “But the fact that people are willing to be arrested shows this issue is bigger than the university.”

According to Carvalho, five volunteers headed to the UMass Police Department to post bail for the 19 arrested protesters by 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The group used money collected by a GoFundMe account. As of Wednesday evening, the account had raised $2,050.

Carvalho said the continued sit-in on Thursday is “likely to grow” due to social media and press coverage. He said the day will be similar to Wednesday, with a sit-in at Whitmore beginning at 8:30 a.m., trainings for new protesters all day, and a rally to show support for both those who leave voluntarily and those who may risk arrest on Thursday evening.

If the Divest UMass organizers do not feel their demands are met by the end of the day Thursday, a group larger than 19 plans to remain in Whitmore after it closes, according to Carvalho.

Divest UMass issued a statement Wednesday afternoon calling for a “formal commitment to full divestment … as well as a formal commitment to work with Divest UMass and other applicable parties to craft a comprehensive divestment and reinvestment plan.”

During the day, protesters filled the hallway leading to the chancellor’s office, extending the sit-in to the third-floor lobby of Whitmore and down the adjacent hallway. The students, faculty, and community members remained mostly quiet, eating pizza and using laptop computers. Some were barefoot, and many held orange signs to support the cause.

A rally was held in the late afternoon Wednesday outside Whitmore. “We want to make sure we show support for those at the sit-in,” Carvalho said.

Waves of protesters were ushered into the building every half hour Wednesday following training from Divest UMass volunteers. Protesters signified they had undergone training by drawing black X’s on their hands and wearing pieces of orange felt pinned to their clothing.

According to Carvalho, national networks such as the Divestment Student Network are showing support.




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