Officers to enter protest encampment on USC campus – NBC Los Angeles

What to Know

  • The unrest began last month after USC announced it canceled the graduation speech from its pro-Palestinian valedictorian.
  • After the LAPD clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters on campus on April 24, more than 90 demonstrators were arrested.
  • USC has restricted the public’s access to its main campus, allowing only students, faculty and staff with valid ID inside.

Law enforcement officers in protective gear arrived on the campus of USC early Sunday at an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters.

“The Los Angeles Police Department is clearing the center of UPC,” the campus department of public safety said. “If you are in the center of campus, please leave. People who don’t leave could be arrested.”

Tensions remain high on the campus as graduation nears amid an ongoing pro-Palestinian encampment that’s resulted in the cancelation of the university’s main commencement ceremony, the arrests of more than 90 people and restricted access to the school that bars the public from entering it.

Social events have been limited on the USC campus while pro-Palestinian protesters remained in their encampment on Alumni Park.

Photos: Pro-Palestine protest at USC

The campus unrest began last month after the university canceled the speech from its pro-Palestinian valedictorian Asna Tabassum, a fourth-year student from Chino Hills with a major in biomedical engineering and a minor in resistance to genocide. Citing “safety concerns,” the school said in a community message that the decisions “is not only necessary to maintain the safety of our campus and students, but is consistent with the fundamental legal obligation – including the expectations of federal regulators – that universities act to protect students and keep our campus community safe.”

In response, some USC students and community members protested the university’s decision to show support for Tabassum and called on the campus to cut financial and education ties with Israel amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

USC students are sharing their thoughts after LAPD issued a tactical alert on campus amid ongoing pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Christian Cazares reports for the NBC4 News on April 27, 2024.

Tensions escalated on campus April 24 when the Los Angeles Police Department clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters who set up encampments on the campus. The confrontation resulted in the arrests of 93 demonstrators and the school to cancel its “main stage graduation ceremony.”

University President Carol Folt addressed the protest encampment on campus in a May 3 update.

“Freedom of expression is one of our foundational values, and throughout the year, faculty, staff, and students have held lawful marches, vigils, and peaceful demonstrations,” Folt said. “But let me be absolutely clear: free speech and assembly do not include the right to obstruct equal access to campus, damage property, or foment harassment, violence, and threats. Nor is anyone entitled to obstruct the normal functions of our university, including commencement.

“The university is legally obligated to ensure that students, faculty, and staff can move freely throughout our campus while pursuing their studies, work, and research. Every part of our campuses, including Alumni Park, must be fully accessible and free from vandalism and harassment.”

The unrest at USC comes as universities across the nation are met with pro-Palestinian protests — a movement that calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and puts pressure on higher education institutions to divest educational and financial ties with Israel.

USC’s cross-town rival, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), also had its share of protests. On May 1, counter-protesters violently attacked pro-Palestinian demonstrators and attempted to tear down their encampment. Police cleared out the encampment the following day and arrested more than 200 people who refused their order to disperse.

UCLA and USC had stark differences in their response to the unrest on campus amid pro-Palestinian protests and pro-Israeli counter protests. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on May 1, 2024.

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