Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Tuesday defended the recent clearance of a pro-Palestinian encampment at Emerson College by Boston Police, saying a city ordinance prohibiting encampments can't be selectively applied and that the protesters there “wanted to get arrested.”

“The city has an ordinance that is meant to protect public health and safety around encampments and tents,” Wu said, referring to a 2023 statute crafted to address the situation at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, where Boston's addiction, mental health and homelessness crises have converged for years.

To date, Wu said, that ordinance has been used more than 30 times to prevent new encampments from springing up.

“We cannot say to unhoused residents, 'You have to comply with this ordinance that is on the books for health and safety, but if you're a student, or if you are for a cause that we agree with, then we're going to look the other way,'” Wu said.

Wu made her remarks during a regular appearance on GBH's Boston Public Radio.

More than 100 protesters were arrested when the Emerson encampment, which was located in a public alleyway, was cleared late last month. At the time, protesters who spoke with GBH News suggested that police used excessive force during the clearance, with one describing the BPD's conduct as “brutal.”

According to the mayor, a city review yielded no evidence that any protesters arrested had been hospitalized due to injuries.

She added that “several officers” were injured during the clearance, which “definitely involved situations of force.”

“When students or demonstrators are interlocked and resisting arrest, it does require some to do what they need to do,” Wu said, seemingly in reference to the police.

Wu also said the city tried for “multiple days” prior to the clearance to convince protesters to remove the tents that had sprung up in the alley, and conveyed that, if that occurred, the protest could continue indefinitely.

“[We] worked with school officials to communicate directly to say, if you take down the tents, no other issues are there — we do not want to be involved on the city side at all,” Wu said.

“The school even said to the student organizers, 'If you take down the tents, we will make warming rooms available inside that you can [use] 24 hours a day,'” she added. “And the response was that the students, the organizers, wanted to get arrested, and would keep the tents up to get arrested.”

The city is currently reviewing ”hundreds“ of hours of police body camera footage from the clearances, Wu said, including video that captures the period just before the clearance began.

”I have seen some of it so far, including the opening moments when there was another clear attempt to de-escalate with the students, and it was met with sort of interlocking of arms and a choice that they wanted to have that interaction,“ Wu said.

The mayor did not say when that body-camera footage would be released to the public.

Watch the segment: