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Stanford University (Photo: https://www.visitcalifornia.com)

Pro-Palestinian Protester Arrests, Encampment Clearances Continue Across California

13 arrested at Stanford for occupying building; seniors will not be allowed to graduate

By Evan Symon, June 5, 2024 5:03 pm

In the last few days, crackdowns on Pro-Palestinian protestors have continued across the state, including the arrest of 13 students who occupied the Stanford University President’s office, and the clearance of an encampment outside Los Angeles City Hall.

Since late April, several pro-Palestine, pro-Hamas protests and encampments have turned into mass arrest events in California. The first such event occurred on April 24th when protesters refused to leave an encampment at the USC campus in Los Angeles. Law enforcement subsequently moved in, razing the encampment and arresting 93 protestors, of whom over 50 were students. On April 30th, another 35 students were arrested at Cal Poly Humboldt in Arcata when, after a week of occupying 2 buildings on campus, law enforcement officers retook both in a major sweep.

Another encampment bust on May 2nd, this time at UCLA, destroyed one of the largest protester encampments in the country, leading to 210 arrests. Less than a week later, 65 were arrested at UC San Diego. Heading into late May, 50 were arrested at UC Irvine on May 15th, with over a dozen being arrested at UC Berkeley the very next day. With Universities letting out for the spring semester, many protests on campus began to dwindle, with many protests moving to city areas. However, campus protests did continue, with over 80 protesters being arrested at UC Santa Cruz last week on May 31st.

This led to two more police actions on Monday and Wednesday. The first even took place at Los Angeles City Hall. On Monday afternoon around 20 tents began to go up outside the City Hall. Fearing that a large encampment and larger scale protests could occur and begin to harm local Angelinos, the LAPD began monitoring the area. However, by Monday evening, the situation worsened, with many protestors beginning to spill over into the street.

“There is a non-permitted demonstration occurring in the Civic Center portion of DTLA. Please use caution in the area due to people in the Roadway,” said the LAPD on X.

As it became a danger to the public, the LAPD moved in just after midnight on Tuesday morning, with tactical on standby in case of any incidents. However, protesters proved to to be non-confrontational, with many packing up and leaving as the police went in. Within a few hours, the area was cleared and no arrests were made as they peacefully left.

However, the same could not be said about protestors at Stanford University. At 6 A.M. on Wednesday, the official last day of Spring semester classes, over a dozen protesters broke into building 10 on campus and occupied the office of Stanford’s president. There, 10 students barricaded themselves in the office, with many more staying outside and linking arms. The Pro-Palestinian group, Liberate Stanford, then gave their demands on Instagram.

“We refuse to leave until Stanford Administration and the Stanford Board of Trustees meet our demands and take action to address their role in enabling and profiting from the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” said the group on Wednesday morning. “We disavow acts of vandalism carried out by some protesters. The intentions of this movement are not to create unnecessary labor for service workers, and we refuse to have our uprising hijacked by unknown agitators.”

Despite saying this, protesters proceeded to vandalize the President’s office with spray paint and fake blood. They also accused the University as unwilling to listen to their demands.

The occupation of the office proved to be short lived. Law enforcement officials soon appeared, and at around 8 A.M., they entered building 10. In total, 13 protesters were arrested during the retaking of the building. One law enforcement officer was also injured after being shoved by protesters. The University immediately suspended all students who were arrested, with all seniors not being allowed to graduate as a consequence.

In a statement, Stanford University said that “This morning, a group of individuals unlawfully entered Building 10, which houses the offices of the president and provost. Law enforcement has arrested 13 individuals, and the building has been cleared. A public safety officer was injured after being shoved by protesters who were interfering with a transport vehicle. There has been extensive damage to the interior of Building 10 and exterior of the buildings in the quad.

“We are appalled that our students chose to take this action and we will work with law enforcement to ensure that they face the full consequences allowed by law. All arrested students will be immediately suspended and in case any of them are seniors, they will not be allowed to graduate.

“We have consistently emphasized the need for constructive engagement and peaceful protest when there is a disagreement in views. This was not peaceful protest and actions such as what occurred this morning have no place at Stanford.”

Swifter protest crackdowns

Protest researchers said that the LA and Stanford actions were proving to be the last big ‘hurrahs’ of protesters for the Spring, as college campuses return to low student summer classes and public areas are seeing a rebounding of law enforcement officials there.

“Law enforcement, cities, Universities, and the majority of people are just not having any patience with them any more,” said researcher Sandy Crane, who studies college protest movements, to the Globe on Wednesday. “We always see this. They start off big, with everyone looking into the best ways to handle it. For universities, they have decided on either giving the protesters a peaceful solution of talking about this later in the year, like a possible vote on eliminating money going to Israel, or responding by force before things get worse. They saw the circuses that developed at Columbia and Cal Poly Humboldt when buildings were taken over, and they wanted to cut that off as soon as possible. Students at Stanford barely had two hours before police were called in.”

“And the L.A. City Hall protest showed that while protests outside campuses have continued, they barely do much more than block traffic for a bit before they scramble away when police arrive. College campuses have qualms about free speech. But for cities, when people are at risk, police go in quickly. At L.A. City Hall, the encampment was down in a matter of hours as they proved to be a safety risk. And like the others, protesters left before any arrests.”

“These protests are weakening. And with Spring semesters now over with and students back at home, protests, big ones, are going to be much harder to organize. Now if they come back in the fall, it depends on a lot. The war in Gaza could change by then, and the elections could switch priorities for some. Universities could also have stricter punishments in place. But for now, we are going into a summer lull. A huge event in Gaza or the odd big protest could change that, but as we saw, crackdowns are now much swifter.”

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Evan Symon
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3 thoughts on “Pro-Palestinian Protester Arrests, Encampment Clearances Continue Across California

  1. This is good news, all things considered.
    Very much appreciate all the updates on this situation.

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