Protesters rally outside Pomona College graduation ceremony at Shrine Auditorium – NBC Los Angeles

The graduation ceremony for Pomona College graduates faced upheaval as protesters rallied outside the Shrine Auditorium in University Park, demanding divestment from funding linked to Israel and the war in Gaza.

School officials moved the ceremony to the Shrine Auditorium after an encampment was established on the main graduation stage on campus.

Protesters clashed with police outside of the graduation ceremony Sunday. According to the LAPD, protesters attempted to block graduation guests from entering the auditorium. 

Police said a group charged at officers, resulting in one person being arrested for alleged battery of a police officer. The scuffle broke out just after the ceremony began inside as more protesters gathered on 32nd Street near Royal. 

Officers issued an unlawful assembly warning and formed a line to push the protesters away from the entrance to the Shrine.

LAPD called in backup officers in riot gear who successfully pushed protesters down 32nd before they dispersed.  

Pro-Palestinian protesters were outside of University Park as Pomona College has it’s graduation ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium after moving the ceremony’s location last minute. Anastassia Olmos reports for the NBC4 News on May 12, 2024.

Parents and students navigated through the ceremony changes, some having to make last-minute adjustments to their plans.

“Lots of people can’t come. I have family that’s not going to be able to make it to this because their flights tonight. I have friends who aren’t going to be able to graduate because they have flights tonight,” lamented Aiden Wogan, a graduating student.

“People like me, I’m traveling from Puerto Rico, you know, and I had to chase. The graduation was at 10 a.m., and then it was 6 p.m. My flight was going out of Ontario at 10,” said Jorge Martinez, a parent of a graduate. “I had to cancel, change flights, go overnight back to Puerto Rico because I have work tomorrow.”

Faculty members were seen supporting protesting students, recognizing their bravery and commitment.

“Our students have been heroic. They have put their bodies on the line. They’ve been arrested. They’ve been threatened with expulsion. Yes. And they’re facing huge backlash. The least we can do is faculty to come here and support,” said Kouross Esmaeli, a professor participating in the protests.

Some parents and graduates expressed frustration with the university administration for allowing a few disruptors to impact the ceremony, stating that they had lost their high school graduations, and even their first year of college at Pomona due to the pandemic.

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