20 Arrested After Pro-Palestinian Protesters Storm California College President’s Office

20 Arrested After Pro-Palestinian Protesters Storm California College President’s Office

Protesters wave Palestinian flags in Los Angeles on Oct. 12, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

4/6/2024

Updated: 4/6/2024

CLAREMONT, Calif.—The president of a California college said April 6 demonstrators in a pro-Palestinian protest that led to 20 arrests on her campus should be immediately suspended if they are found to be students at the institution.
An ongoing protest at Pomona College in Claremont April 5 escalated when about 30 to 40 pro-Palestinian protesters stormed Campus President G. Gabrielle Starr’s office, leading to a standoff and the eventual arrests, authorities said Saturday.
The president said on Friday all students participating in the event were “subject to immediate suspension” and other participants from outside the college were immediately “banned” from the campus.
Alexander Hall at Pomona Collage in Claremont, Calif., in 2022. (Google Maps/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Alexander Hall at Pomona Collage in Claremont, Calif., in 2022. (Google Maps/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

“ ... Students then, under false pretenses, entered Alexander Hall, and are occupying my office,” Ms. Starr wrote in a message to the community on Friday. “Any participants in today’s events on the SCC lawn or in Alexander Hall, who turn out to be Pomona students, are subject to immediate suspension. Students from the other Claremont Colleges will be banned from Pomona’s campus and subject to discipline on their own campuses. All individual participants not part of The Claremont Colleges community are hereby banned from campus immediately.”
In the message, the president referred to an alleged use of a racial slur toward a campus administrator as “sickening, anti-black.” She additionally said the event was a part of “an escalating series of incidents” on the campus, where “persistent harassment of visitors for admission tours” occurred.
Police were called throughout the day Friday regarding a large protest on the campus at 550 N. College Ave., according to the Claremont Police Department. At about 4 p.m., campus safety officials told police that approximately 100–150 protesters were outside the president’s office and another 30–40 had stormed the building and “taken over” the office.
“Communication was immediately established by School Administration with the protesters, but they refused to leave the building,” police said.
“At about 5:30 PM, at the request of Campus Safety, Officers from Claremont PD and surrounding agencies responded to the location due to the disturbance and the protester’s refusal to leave the property,” a police statement continued. “Contact was made with a spokesperson with the protesting group and with our coordinated efforts, we were able to gain compliance with about half the protesters inside the building, who left on their own free will.
“The remaining protesters were given multiple lawful orders and adequate time to leave the building by School Administration, Campus Safety Personnel and Claremont PD Officers, but they still refused to leave. At the request of the School’s Administration, a total of nineteen arrests were made for trespassing. One additional arrest was made during the incident for obstructing/delaying an officer.”
All those arrested were booked and released with a written promise to appear. Police said a large crowd gathered outside the department during the booking process demanding the release of the arrestees, but no additional arrests were made.
Officials at the college say several masked individuals refused to identify themselves in violation of campus policy, and some verbally harassed campus staff.
“We uphold the right to free speech and to protest within the lines of our long-established Claremont Colleges demonstration policy,” the college said in a statement. “We will not permit the presence of masked, unidentified individuals on our campus refusing to show identification when asked. Nor will we stand for harassment of visitors or racial slurs shouted at college employees—all of which have taken place this week. Anyone involved in these violations found to be a Pomona student is subject to immediate suspension and required to leave our campus.”
The president said masked individuals have occupied a portion of the Smith Campus Center lawn for the past week, and that early Friday, some participants voluntarily removed the tents in which they had been sleeping.
“In preparation for events scheduled on Sunday, and in line with our policy, campus staff began to remove the signs and other material that remained. They informed the individuals present that they could move their own material or it would be stored for pickup.
“Several individuals proceeded to verbally harass campus staff, including the use of a racial slur in addressing a campus administrator. This is unacceptable,” Ms. Starr wrote in her April 5 message.
Joyce Kuo contributed to this report. 
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