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LAPD, campus police arrest 93 at Gaza solidarity encampment at USC

By Luis Sifuentes

Pro-Palestine protest at USC. | Fight Back! News/Luis Sifuentes

Los Angeles, CA – On April 24, thousands of student activists and community members occupied Alumni Park in the middle of the University of Southern California (USC) to protest the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Student activists demanded that the university divest from corporations that sell weapons and technology to Israel, a complete academic boycott of Israel, and an end to its silence on the genocide of Palestine.

Outrage by USC students, staff and the public erupted after university canceled class of 2024 valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s graduation speech, and then all speeches. Tabassum is a biomedical engineering major who resists genocide. She is also a South Asian American Muslim and wears a hijab. When asked, she stated that she believes the school canceled her speech because of her public support for the human rights of Palestinians.

Alumni Park was occupied by student protesters starting Wednesday morning, April 24, in an act of solidarity with numerous universities and colleges all around the United States, as part of the Gaza encampment movement. Students gathered this morning to bring attention to the genocide going on in Palestine being committed by Israel with the funding and support of the United States.

Jody Armour, a USC law professor who was at the occupied Alumni Park in full solidarity with the students and their fight, commended them for fighting for what’s right. He uplifted the name of Tabassum who was silenced by USC administrators, including Errol Southers, an ex-FBI agent and now one of the officers in charge of the USC public safety department. Armour said, “These violence workers came into the camp. They tore down the tents. They brutally assaulted some of us and the reason I call them violence workers, let’s be honest about who they are, their tools are guns and batons. When your tools are hammers every problem you have is a nail.”

USC President Carol Folt and administration called in university police in riot gear to brutalize students staging protests on their campus. Campus police handcuffed an organizer of the Palestinian Youth Movement but were forced to let him go once the students stopped the police squad car from leaving. The campus was then closed off to the public, only allowing students to enter, checking IDs at main entrances. However, this was still easy to bypass, and activists continued to hold their ground at the park despite the brutal attack and the confiscation of camping gear and banners.

Gabriel Quiroz from Centro CSO said, “I saw the videos of students at USC protesting in solidarity with the campus encampment movement and I was very happy seeing the young students and local residents rising up! It inspired me to come out and back them up. As a member of Centro CSO one of our main focuses is community control of LASD and police accountability so I thought it was very important to come down here and hold the cops accountable! ”


After unlawful assembly was declared by campus police, students and supporters then locked arms and prepared themselves for arrest. Over 100 LAPD riot troops conducted violent mass arrests and loaded pro-Palestine students into white vans while aiming weapons at protesters. The protest spread across campus. Students blocked traffic on the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Hoover Street, outside of one blocked entrance. Around 9 p.m., LAPD held the line, preventing people from walking through an entrance, where they shot lethal riot munitions at protesters who were violently forced off campus.

93 students were arrested by LAPD and detained in two different holding locations. They were all charged with trespassing.

As university encampments like the one at USC develop throughout the country, the National Students for a Democratic Society issued a solidarity statement with all students facing campus administrative and police attacks. It reads in part, “SDS condemns these cowardly acts on free speech, the right to assemble and academic freedom. It is right to stand with Palestine!”

#LosAngelesCA #CA #AntiWarMovement #International #MiddleEast #Palestine #StudentMovement #SDS #Occupy4Gaza #CentroCSO