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Pro-Palestinian protests: 93 arrested at California campus

April 25, 2024

Police said 93 people were arrested for trespassing at the University of Southern California as pro-Palestinian protests continue in the US. Several universities have turned to law enforcement to break up gatherings.

A University of Southern California protester is detained during a pro-Palestinian protest
The Los Angeles Police Department said 93 people were arrested for trespassing as pro-Palestinian protests took place on university groundsImage: Richard Vogel/AP Photo/picture alliance

Los Angeles police said on Thursday that 93 people had been arrested for trespassing at the University of Southern California (USC) amid protests over the mounting death toll in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

The pro-Palestinian protest at USC was among the latest to take place at campuses across the United States that have seen confrontations between demonstrators and law enforcement. 

The Israel-Hamas war was sparked by the Hamas-led terror attacks in southern Israel on October 7 that left around 1,200 people dead and saw 250 taken hostage. 

Since then, Israel has launched an expansive ground offensive throughout the Palestinian territory, which Hamas-led health authorities said has killed over 34,300 people, mainly women and children, and led to a humanitarian crisis.

US: Columbia extends deadline to end Gaza student protests

What the LAPD said

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said it was "in the area" as numerous people were protesting on USC's Los Angeles campus. Officers then assisted the university when demonstrators refused to leave.

"The university is a private campus and the group had been violating some of their orders and it was a trespass at that point and we assisted with those arrests," LAPD spokeswoman Kelly Muniz told reporters.

USC says protests on campus have ended

USC on Thursday said the protest had ended, and the campus would remain closed until further notice.

"Students, faculty, staff, and people with business on campus may enter with proper identification," the university added.

The university had earlier said the LAPD was clearing the center of the campus and urged people to leave, warning that police would arrest those refusing to disperse.

The demonstrations in California were part of protests at US colleges and universities that started in earnest last week at Columbia University in New York. Pro-Palestinian supporters there set up a tent encampment that police attempted to clear, resulting in the arrest of more than 100 people. The rally, however, served as inspiration for protests elsewhere.

Warning National Guard could be called in

US House Speaker Mike Johnson visited Columbia on Wednesday. He met Jewish students over concerns about antisemitism on campuses.

Johnson called on university President Minouche Shafik to resign "if she cannot bring order in this chaos."

"If this is not contained quickly and if these threats and intimidation are not stopped, there is an appropriate time for the National Guard," Johnson said.

Universities have increasingly started turning to law enforcement to end campus demonstrations as graduation season approaches.

In Austin, Texas, hundreds of local and state police — including some on horseback and holding batons — moved on protesters, at one point sending some tumbling into the street. At least 20 protesters were arrested.

Police deployed mounted units at a pro-Palestinian protest in Austin, Texas
Police at the University of Texas detained dozens in the latest clashes between law enforcement and those protesting the Israel-Hamas warImage: Austin American-Statesman/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Two were arrested at Ohio State University after around 50 protesters gathered at a campus amphitheater.

University spokesman Ben Johnson said the pair had become disruptive and were then arrested.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, limited access to those with identification and posted warning signs against those setting up tents or tables without permission. However, it didn't deter people from setting up tents on Wednesday.

kb/sms (AFP, AP)