USC Alumni Park: 93 Protesters Arrested During Pro-Palestinian Demonstration

USC remained closed to the public Thursday, only allowing access to students, faculty, and staff with proper identification.
Published: April 25, 2024

LOS ANGELES — Nearly 100 protesters were arrested Wednesday during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Alumni Park.

The protest, dubbed the “Gaza Solidarity Occupation,” began Wednesday morning and was one of many such demonstrations happening on college campuses nationwide. The USC protesters issued a list of demands, including the school’s divestment from organizations that “profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide and occupation in Palestine,” reports ABC 7. They also demanded a complete academic boycott of Israel, including an end to study abroad programs in the area and cutting ties with Israeli universities.

USC Department of Public Safety officers initially visited the encampment, instructing demonstrators not to hang signs, flags, or other materials from trees and posts in the park. They also warned them not to use megaphones. The Los Angeles Police Department arrived at the protest around 4 p.m. and ordered the protesters to disperse around 5:30 p.m., according to CBS News.

“The Los Angeles Police Department is clearing the center of the UPC (University Park) campus,” USC tweeted at 5:50 p.m. “If you are in the center of campus, please leave; LAPD will be arresting people who don’t disperse.”

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Many demonstrators stayed in the area, locking arms as LAPD officers in riot gear approached. Some threw objects at officers, including water bottles and rocks. At least 93 people were arrested for trespassing, a misdemeanor offense, and booked at LAPD’s Metropolitan Division.

A group of demonstrators gathered outside the police department overnight to support those arrested. LAPD Captain Kelly Muniz said they haven’t determined if the protesters will be cited.

USC Closed to Public After Protest

USC announced at 11:58 p.m. that the protest was over but campus would be closed “until further notice.” The campus remained closed to the public Thursday with only students, faculty, and employees with proper identification being given access. USC safety officers as well as LAPD officials increased security around the school.

“Anyone coming to campus should be prepared to show an ID at the gates for class or for business,” USC alerted. “Please continue to avoid the center of campus unless you have a class.”

In a letter to the campus community Wednesday afternoon, Provost Andrew Guzman said while the university supports freedom of expression for students, there are demonstration guidelines that must be followed.

“We have well-established policies regarding limits on the time, place, and manner of free expression,” he wrote. “These include a prohibition on erecting tents or other encampments, use of loudspeakers, signs on poles or stakes, and the disruption of classes and other essential functions of the university.”

Protest Follows Ban on USC Valedictorian Graduation Speech

Wednesday’s occupation comes a little more than a week after USC officials announced it would not allow its valedictorian to speak during next month’s commencement ceremony.

Asna Tabassum, who USC officials chose as valedictorian from nearly 100 student applicants, has expressed pro-Palestinian views, including some that have led to accusations of antisemitism. The university cited safety concerns as the reason for canceling Tabassum’s speech. Hundreds of students marched through the USC campus on April 18 to protest the school’s decision.

The commencement, which is held at Alumni Park, is expected to draw nearly 65,000 people to campus.

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