"Not Mere Pixels on a Screen": What Chicago's Student Encampments Actually Look Like

Select images from one of Chicago’s movement photographers of student encampments at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Many of the images being shared and circulated about the encampments on college campuses across the country are centered around police assaults on student, faculty and community protesters. These images are critical, but they do not tell the whole story.

Chicago movement photographer Sarah-Ji has been documenting the growth of student encampments in the city as well as the collective and intergenerational efforts that have gone into building, maintaining and using them in the struggle to end the genocide in Gaza.

So many of these photographs that I’ve captured with my camera are not mere pixels on a screen for me,” Sarah-Ji says. I know that I’m watching history unfold.”

Below is a small selection of Sarah-Ji’s photos of Chicago’s student encampments.

A member of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network leads a Dabke workshop at the encampment at the University of Chicago on May 4, 2024, as those gathered hold hands and dance. Sarah-Ji
A Palestinian flag is flown on April 30, 2024 over a fence near where the encampment at DePaul University has been set up. Sarah-Ji
A sign for "Hind's Garden" is placed in the Art Institute's North Garden with the Gaza Solidarity Encampment in the background. This photo was taken shortly after the gates to the North Garden were locked by protesters who set up the encampment on May 4, 2024. Sarah-Ji
A supporter holds a Palestinian flag at the Northwestern University student encampment in late April 2024. Sarah-Ji
Arrests at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago encampment on May 4, 2024. Sarah-Ji
The demands of students at the University of Chicago are chalked on the cement outside of a tent—"Divest. Disclose. Repair"—on the first day of that encampment on April 29, 2024. Sarah-Ji
A sign declaring "The right side of history is where the students are" sits on the grass outside Deering Meadow at Northwestern University on April 28, 2024. Sarah-Ji
While students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago take to the North Garden, supporters rally outside on May 4, 2024, linking arms to try and block police from entering. Sarah-Ji
A sign reading "We Keep Us Safe" at the DePaul University student encampment in support of Palestinian liberation. Sarah-Ji
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