USC campus cleared at dawn by LAPD, campus police – Daily News

Pro-Palestinian faculty will join students as they take over Alumni Park at USC in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, calling for investment in Israel over the Israel-Hamas war. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A pro-Palestinian encampment in the middle of USC’s main campus was cleared this morning by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and the USC Department of Public Safety, ending a high-profile demonstration that began in April.

No arrests or serious confrontations were reported.

Camp clearing began at 4:30 a.m., although USC Annenberg Media reported at 3:51 a.m. that university police officers told student reporters they planned to arrive at 4 a.m. and set up what they said was a staging area for the media. It was too far to witness any arrests.

Annenberg Media reported that protesters chanted “Free Palestine” at 4:17 a.m. as officers began to surround the camp. At 4:25 a.m., DPS officers at the camp gave protesters 15 minutes to leave the area before arresting them.

Officers began removing banners hung by protesters at 4:35 a.m. and moving them to the side of the park, Annenberg said. The officer reportedly told reporters at Annenberg Media that this is a “DPS operation.”

During that time, USC officials warned students that the campus was temporarily closed.

During the cleanup operation, reporters from the Daily Trojan, USC’s student newspaper, reported seeing “at least 50 Los Angeles police officers … driving down Trousdale Parkway near the USC campus at 4:15 a.m. in a flash, less lethal.” Checker and helmet.’ It also reported seeing “three police vans, which appear to be used to transport arrested persons.”

According to a news videographer at the scene, officers removed between 50 and 75 students from the camp and campus. Officers then cleared the tents and other equipment that remained.

The police action comes after USC President Carol Folt wrote an open letter to the “Troy family” highlighting the steps the university was taking to ensure that students could complete their finals in a “calm, safe academic environment — and that our graduate students They could enjoy a quiet and joyful commencement ceremony.”

Folt took a strong stand against the protesters, who may continue to be disruptive.

“Let me be perfectly clear,” she wrote in a letter released Friday. “Freedom of speech and assembly does not include the right to interfere with equal access to campus, to damage property or to encourage harassment, violence, or intimidation.” No one has the right to interfere with the normal functioning of our university, including commencement.

“… When laws and policies that affect everyone are repeatedly and blatantly violated – there must be consequences.”

It was unclear how access to the campus, which was restricted to students, faculty and staff for most of last week, would be affected now that the camp has been removed.

USC has become a hotbed of pro-Palestinian protests in the Southland after its decision to cancel valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s commencement speech in response to complaints about online posts that critics called anti-Semitic. USC officials insisted that the move was only a matter of security and not a political decision.

As tensions mounted — leading to a mass protest on April 24 that led to 93 arrests — the university ultimately decided to cancel the May 10 main commencement at Alumni Park, but vowed to go ahead with smaller satellite graduation ceremonies. Individual colleges of the school.

These ceremonies are to begin on Wednesday.

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