News

USC’s Pro-Palestinian Protesters Clash With Campus Police

USC’s Pro-Palestinian Protesters Clash With Campus Police

USC public safety officers detain a pro-Palestine demonstrator during clashes after officers attempted to take down an encampment in support of Gaza at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on April 24, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

4/24/2024

Updated: 4/24/2024

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian University of Southern California students and outside supporters clashed with campus police April 24 as they occupied Alumni Park in the heart of the campus.
A group calling itself the USC Divest From Death Coalition organized Wednesday’s demonstration and said it plans to continue the “Gaza Solidarity Occupation” until the university meets its demands, according to the campus newspaper the Daily Trojan.
The group set up tents Wednesday morning at the park, located in the center of the private university’s Los Angeles campus.
They also issued a list of demands, which include ending what they call war profiteering and investment in genocide, a complete academic boycott of Israel, protection of free speech on campus and full amnesty to students, and no policing on campus.
“USC’s funding of the ongoing genocide perpetrated by the Zionist entity is reflective of maintaining imperialist interests abroad, as well as solidifying the shared ideology of amerikan and Zionist institutions in preserving racialized oppression,” the group wrote in a statement.
USC’s campus police responded to the park in an effort to confiscate microphones and tents. Videos of clashes between student protesters and police were shared widely on social media showing groups of students shoving officers as they tried to surround some protesters.
Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to assist, but campus police were managing the situation, according to news reports and an LAPD spokesman.
University Provost Andrew Guzman released a statement in the afternoon saying USC supported freedom of expression but prohibits tents and other encampments, the use of loudspeakers, signs on poles or stakes, and the disruption of classes.
The protest included many people who did not appear to be affiliated with USC, Mr. Guzman said in the statement.
The outside demonstrators were repeatedly asked by security to remove their tents and other prohibited items, and to relocate. The protesters refused, according to Mr. Guzman.
“Their actions have escalated to the point of confrontation and have threatened the safety of our officers and campus community,” Mr. Guzman said.
The university closed campus gates Wednesday afternoon to contain the demonstrations and to “keep the rest of the campus calm,” he added. Those who entered were required to show identification.
The campus will remain restricted from unauthorized visitors until further notice, according to the school.
“We want to be clear that we reject speech that is hateful and that causes harm to others,” Mr. Guzman said. “In these challenging times, we call on the Trojan family to remember that every member of our community is deserving of respect, has the right to be safe on campus, take classes, and participate in other campus activities without fear of harassment or bullying.”
The university is paying close attention to the situation and will do “all that is required” to maintain safety, according to the statement.
USC’s Alumni Park is scheduled to host its annual graduation commencement ceremony May 10 after controversy arose with the cancellation of a speech by pro-Palestinian valedictorian Asna Tabassum.
The cancellation was reportedly prompted by complaints about some of her online posts, including a link to a website advocating the abolition of Israel.
Several groups, including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles, and the ACLU of Southern California denounced the decision and demanded USC allow her to speak.
University officials instead decided to cancel all outside speakers and honorees at this year’s graduation ceremonies.
“Given the highly publicized circumstances surrounding our main-stage commencement program, university leadership has decided it is best to release our outside speakers and honorees from attending this year’s ceremony,'' said a message sent to the USC community Friday afternoon.
“We’ve been talking to this exceptional group and hope to confer these honorary degrees at a future commencement or other academic ceremonies.'’
The event mirrored several similar anti-Israeli protests across the country this week as clashes between supporters of a cease-fire in Gaza and university officials continue to grow.
Several arrests were made at Columbia University in New York this week as encampments were cleared by police. Over 100 student protesters were arrested.
Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

Author

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.