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Pro-Palestine Encampment at Cal State LA Cleared by Police; No Arrests

Pro-Palestine Encampment at Cal State LA Cleared by Police; No Arrests

Pro-Palestinian students and activists protest at an encampment in the campus of California State University–Los Angeles, in Los Angeles on May 6, 2024. (Etienne Laurent/AFP via Getty Images)

City News Service
City News Service

6/18/2024

Updated: 6/18/2024

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LOS ANGELES—Less than a week after protesters occupied and vandalized a campus building, a pro-Palestine encampment at Cal State Los Angeles has been dismantled and is no longer on campus on June 18. No arrests were reported.
California Highway Patrol officers moved in on the encampment early Monday afternoon. Campus spokesman Erik Frost Hollins told City News Service only seven people were still in the camp, and all of them voluntarily dispersed when police ordered them to vacate. He said there was no use of force by officers and no arrests were made.
The encampment had been on campus for more than 40 days. CSULA President Berenecea Johnson Eanes said last week that as long as the encampment remained peaceful, the university had allowed it to remain during discussions with protest leaders about their demands.
That changed last Wednesday, when an unknown number of protesters staged an occupation of four floors inside the Student Services Building on campus, barricading the doors and prompting employees—including Ms. Eanes—to shelter in place in their offices. During the ensuing hours, the protesters did extensive damage to the building, including spray painting windows, walls and furniture, and shattering at least one glass office door. Patio furniture and golf carts were overturned to create a makeshift barricade around the front of the building.
Mr. Hollins said last week police were able to escort some employees out of the building within a few hours of the occupation beginning. He said Ms. Eanes was among about 12 administrators who were initially sheltering in place inside the building.
“There were a dozen, then it got down to maybe half a dozen administrators who remained in the building to work the situation throughout the evening,” he said.
Ms. Eanes and the remaining administrators left the building shortly after midnight Thursday morning.
Around 1 a.m. Thursday, most protesters left the building voluntarily and returned to the existing pro-Palestine encampment on the campus. A remaining handful were coaxed out by university officials a short time later.
Later Thursday, Ms. Eanes issued a public message condemning the actions of the protesters, and saying the pro-Palestine protesters needed to leave the encampment.
“The encampment has crossed a line,” Ms. Eanes said. “Those in the encampment must leave.”
Ms. Eanes also said in her statement that four people—three employees and one student—were assaulted by protesters during the occupation, although no other details were released.
“A trust we had in the encampment to practice non-violence has been violated,” Ms. Eanes said in her statement to the “Golden Eagle Community” released Thursday afternoon. “Trust is a hard thing to restore, but we will do the work together.”
A pro-Palestinian protester pushes a small office cabinet to be used in a makeshift barricade around the California State University–Los Angeles Student Services Building in Los Angeles on June 12, 2024. (Etienne Laurent/AFP via Getty Images)

A pro-Palestinian protester pushes a small office cabinet to be used in a makeshift barricade around the California State University–Los Angeles Student Services Building in Los Angeles on June 12, 2024. (Etienne Laurent/AFP via Getty Images)

A criminal investigation was underway, but there were no reports of any arrests tied to the occupation or vandalism of the building.
All classes at the main CSULA campus have met remotely since the occupation. Mr. Hollins said Monday classes will meet remotely again on Tuesday, and officials plan to “reassess after that.”
“For 40 days, there has been an encampment on our campus,” Ms. Eanes said last week. “We have been in ongoing formal and informal communication with the encampment and its advisers. I went into the encampment twice. I made significant commitments on transparency, respectful conversations, and mental health support. These are all within my authority and aligned with our first principles as a university.
“So long as the encampment remained non-violent, I was committed that the university would continue to talk.
“[Wednesday] night, those involved with the encampment chose violence and destruction. Our chief concern at Cal State LA has always been the safety and security of all involved: our students, faculty, staff, public, and protesters.
“Yet, the significant damage to SSB will affect student-facing services: including admissions, records, accessible technology, basic needs, new student and family engagement, Dreamer resources, and educational opportunity programs. It will take time to restore all those spaces and divert significant resources that would otherwise go to academics, student services or operations.”
Ms. Eanes said she was “saddened” and “angry” about Wednesday’s events.
The Cal State Los Angeles chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine wrote earlier on its Instagram page, which has since been taken down, that Ms. Eanes “continues to dance around and repress our divestment demands,” referencing calls for the university to halt any funding or financial support of businesses tied to Israel.
Pro-Palestinian protesters block the entrance of the California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) Student Services Building in Los Angeles on June 12, 2024. (Etienne Laurent/AFP via Getty Images)

Pro-Palestinian protesters block the entrance of the California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) Student Services Building in Los Angeles on June 12, 2024. (Etienne Laurent/AFP via Getty Images)

“We’ve been waiting for a response to our demands for 18 days,” according to the group. “There is no more time to spare while families are being massacred by U.S. Imperialism with each minute that passes.”
The California State University system “does not intend to alter existing investment policies related to Israel or the Israel-Hamas conflict,” according to a statement from the Office of the Chancellor issued April 30.
“Because of state law and CSU’s investment policies restrictions, the CSU does not invest in direct stocks or equities in any companies. The system does invest in mutual funds, bonds, and other instruments.
“Through careful management of the university funds, CSU investments provide a stable revenue stream that benefits our students and faculty, and supports our critical campus facilities, scholarships, and other key elements of our educational mission.
“While the CSU affirms the right of our community members to express diverse viewpoints, a divestment of this sort impinges on the academic freedom of our students and faculty and the unfettered exchange of ideas on our campuses.”
CSU Chancellor Mildred García also condemned the actions of the protesters last week.
“What happened at Cal State LA yesterday was unacceptable,” Ms. García said in a statement. “I want to be clear: The CSU has demonstrated that we value free speech and peaceful protest, but we do not condone unlawful acts that put people at risk. Vandalism, destruction of property, assault, looting are not free speech, they are not protected activities.
“I and my office are in close contact with President Eanes and will be providing her and her team the support they need as they assess the damage that has been done and begin to heal as a community.”
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