Police clear out pro-Palestinian encampment at USC after university issues warning to protesters

ByTim Caputo and ABC7.com staff KABC logo
Sunday, May 5, 2024
Police clear out pro-Palestinian encampment at USC
Police Sunday morning moved onto the USC campus and cleared out a pro-Palestinian encampment after the school issued a warning to protesters.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Police Sunday morning moved onto the USC campus and cleared out a pro-Palestinian encampment after the school issued a warning to protesters.

According to student journalists with Annenberg Media, the campus was shut down as more than 100 officers in riot gear surrounded the encampment.

Around 5:15 a.m., the university sent a message on X, saying "If you are in the center of campus, please leave. People who don't leave will be arrested."

More than an hour after that, the university confirmed in another post that the encampment was cleared.

Joel Curran, Senior Vice President of Communications, issued the following statement:

"Earlier today, the University of Southern California Department of Public Safety (DPS) successfully removed the illegal encampment rebuilt on the university's campus. It was necessary to request the Los Angeles Police Department to respond to provide security as this was carried out peacefully. No arrests have been reported. We want to thank LAPD for assisting DPS in clearing the encampment and restoring normalcy for students and community as quickly and safely as possible. We will share more information with our community later today."

This comes after the school issued a warning to protesters that the encampment violated school policy and must come down.

According to student journalists with USC Annenberg Media, the assistant director of the USC Village Residential Colleges read a letter to demonstrators Saturday that read the encampment must come down.

Livestream video from student journalists showed the encampment had emptied out as police formed a line to move remaining protesters away and stop people from re-entering the area.

Student reporter Taylor Contarino said the protesters left peacefully.

"The LAPD, they were being a little aggressive but the protesters left peacefully," she told Eyewitness News. "Everybody pretty much exited. They were being pushed out and they did as they were told. There wasn't really much resistance."

Police moved onto the USC campus and began clearing out a pro-Palestinian encampment. A student reporter described the scene.

The encampment had restarted after the LAPD first arrested 93 people on April 24. The atmosphere on the private university campus had largely remained calm since, while attention turned to arrests at the UCLA.

USC, a private university, has been the subject of student protests over the war in Gaza as well as the administration's decision to cancel a commencement speech by the valedictorian, a Muslim student who had expressed support for Palestinians. The university made that decision in mid-April, saying they had safety concerns after receiving threats. Some Jewish groups had criticized the student's selection as speaker.

Administrators later canceled the entire main-stage commencement planned for May 10, when 65,000 people were expected to gather to celebrate graduates. Other commencement activities, including graduation ceremonies for individual schools and colleges, are still scheduled from Thursday through Sunday. Access to the private campus has largely been restricted for people not affiliated with the university since late April.

Video posted online Saturday evening showed some demonstrators engaging in calm songs and chants in preparation for expected police activity. The encampment has been set up on a campus green space, with dozens of tents surrounded by makeshift fencing covered in signs with various messages of support for Palestinians and criticism of the university and law enforcement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.