19 people arrested during protest at Pomona College – NBC Los Angeles

More than a dozen people were arrested Friday after protesters stormed the office of the Pomona College president in opposition to the university’s ties to Israel.

Amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, about 150 people protested on the university campus as part of a movement called “Pomona Divest From Apartheid.” The organization’s goal is to call on Pomona College to “divest from the apartheid state of Israel and the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” it said. This includes boycotting businesses that have ties to the country and ceasing study abroad programs affiliated with it.

The group has staged peaceful protests on campus since early October. Friday’s unrest follows the removal of a mock apartheid wall movement supporters had placed about a week ago. In response, protesters went to the administration building and lobby of the president’s office.

“I think it’s really important to note that this all started in terms of the events of yesterday in an escalatory campaign on the part of the college administration to aggressively tear down — not protest –art with very little forewarning to students,” said Heather Ferguson, an Associate Professor of Middle East and Ottoman History at the college. “So when they came in to dismantle that, there were only a few students there who are trying to hold on to the art while also calling for some support from the coalition as a whole.

According to the protesters, Pomona College President Gabi Starr ordered them to leave or face arrest. In a statement, the university said it “upholds the right to free speech and to protest within the lines of our long-established Claremont Colleges demonstration policy.”

“We will not permit the presence of masked, unidentified individuals on our campus refusing to show identification when asked,” the statement read. “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.”

Video from the disturbance showed several dozens of protesters outside and inside the campus, with Claremont police officers decked in riot gear responding to the scene. Eighteen people were arrested for trespassing and one person was arrested for obstruction of justice. Those who were detained were released after midnight early Saturday.

“Before I was released from jail, I was receiving papers that I had been interim suspended from that I was immediately cut off from my housing, my food, my classes,” said Diana Troung, a senior at the university. “I’m just a 20-year-old college student. I want to help people, I want to work in medicine one day.”

As per college policy, Starr said students who were arrested have been suspended. Truong said she was suspended for 36 hours.

As a result of the arrests, the protesters have obtained legal representation.

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