House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., canceled a scheduled hearing with Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday, arguing that threatening to haul her before Congress to testify on growing antisemitic protests at George Washington University prompted police to “finally” dismantle the “unlawful” anti-Israel encampment on campus and surrounding public spaces. 

“Following the Metropolitan Police Department finally clearing out the unlawful encampment on GW’s campus, I am very pleased to announce that the hearing with Mayor Bowser has been canceled,” Comer said in a statement. “I had a good conversation with Mayor Bowser. I thanked her for finally clearing the trespassers off the GW Campus.” 

“It was unfortunate the situation at GW forced the Oversight Committee to act; however, it was apparent that the DC police force was not going to do their job,” Comer added. “Therefore, after meeting with GW leadership and touring the encampment, we decided to hold a public hearing to get answers as to why the Mayor would not uphold the law. I am pleased that the potential Oversight hearing led to swift action by Mayor Bowser and MPD Chief Smith. We will continue to hold D.C. officials accountable to ensure our nation’s capital is safe for all.”

Bowser and Metropolitan Police Chief Pamela Smith held a press conference earlier Wednesday announcing that 33 people had been arrested at GWU since Tuesday night, when MPD changed their posture at the encampment that had been ongoing since April 25. Charges include unlawful entry, or trespassing, and assault on a police officer, Smith said. 


Comer at GWU anti-Israel encampment

Rep. James Comer and other Republican House members on the corner of 21st and H Street about Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Pamela Smith’s refusal to shut down the anti-Israel encampment at George Washington University on May 1, 2024. (Jordan Tovin for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“I had the opportunity to speak with Chairman Comer this morning, and he expressed his interest in making sure the city and the chief could focus on this ongoing operation. I expect that that hearing will be pulled down,” Bowser told reporters. “MPD’s response to First Amendment demonstration is apolitical. It is without regard to one side or the other. And it’s focused on public safety.” 

Police clear GWU encampment

Barricades are placed near entrances to a now cleared anti-Israel encampment at George Washington University on May 8, 2024. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Over the past two weeks, Bowser said MPD has maintained a presence at GW throughout the protests in support of people exercising their First Amendment rights, but Smith detailed how the situation began to escalate starting last Thursday when a campus police officerwas pushed by protesters and an item was grabbed out of the police officer’s hand during the performance of her duties.” 


“On Monday, MPD learned of more indicators that the protest was becoming more volatile. This included a simple assault reported to GW Police, security probing of a GW building, indicators that counter-demonstrators were covertly in the encampment and information that protesters from other schools were traveling to GW,” Smith said. “In addition, items that could potentially be used for offensive and defensive weapons were being gathered. All of this led to my discussion and conclusion that we needed to change our posture. I briefed Mayor Bowser on Monday and we began preparing for last night.” 

Anti-Israel agitators as GWU encampment is cleared by police

People from an anti-Israel encampment sit on the sidewalk after police cleared George Washington University’s University Yard on May 8, 2024. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

The chief said police issued six dispersal warnings and allowed “ample time” for protesters to disperse. While “many complied and left the encampment area,” Smith said those who did not were arrested. 


“As the encampment was being cleared, additional protesters arrived outside of our perimeter,” Smith said. “These individuals engaged our officers at 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Our officers did deploy pepper spray, and some of the 33 arrests were made at that location.” 

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report. 

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