Thirty one people were arrested for blocking traffic in Harvard Square on Thursday during a protest, organized by local university professors, of the Trump administration’s announcement to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
College students, staff and faculty members from Harvard, Tufts, MIT, Wellesley and more took part in a “non-violent civil disobedience” Thursday evening to demand the preservation of DACA.
The protesters planned to block Massachusetts Avenue until they were removed. Cambridge Police said Thursday evening that 31 rally attendees were arrested “as planned” for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct.
Walter Johnson, a Harvard University history professor, was one of the people arrested. Johnson said everyone arrested was out by about 11:30 p.m. and all have court dates next week.
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Despite getting arrested, Johnson said that the protest went “really well.”
“Hundreds were there, and I think it both helped bring some attention to the resolve that the faculty feel about this issue,” he said, “and also helped us organize in some capacity for future actions and for taking care of our students.”
There are about 800,000 DACA recipients across the country, many of which are college students. To Johnson and the other professors who protested, this issue hits universities and their communities especially hard and turns what should be a safe and supportive enclave into a vulnerable area.
“We’re in this sort of extraordinary science fiction world now where the announced intention of the U.S. government is to send federal agents onto university campuses to take students away,” Johnson said. “We can differ about how likely it is, but that’s what they’ve announced they’re going to do.”
Johnson said he felt emboldened by those who attended the rally in solidarity. He noted that while jail is not a “nice place” to spend any amount of time, those are were arrested on Thursday “felt only strengthened in our resolve.”