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Published on April 25, 2024
USC Protesters Confront Police Amid Tensions Over Palestine-Israel ConflictSource: California.com

Chaos ensued at the University of Southern California on Wednesday morning as clashes erupted between police and pro-Palestinian protesters, resulting in the university shutting down its campus to everyone except students. The confrontation started early in the day with a modest turnout, but tensions escalated as participant numbers grew into the dozens, with reports of shoving and pushing in the vicinity of Alumni Park. According to KTLA, the law enforcement's crackdown on protesters, including "RAIDING ENCAMPMENTS" and "VIOLENTLY ARRESTING," sparked the unrest.

The situation was further inflamed when a video posted on social media by Angie Orellana Hernandez captured an incident where at least one police officer brandished a baton against a USC student. Following this, a group of students managed to halt a police vehicle to prevent it from leaving the protest site with a student. According to the University, the gates were closed around 1:45 p.m., limiting campus access, and IDs were required at the entry points for anyone coming to the university for class or business, as mentioned in a tweet by USC's Department of Public Safety.

Protesters initially assembled to speak out against the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the Israeli response to Hamas' attacks on October 7th. USC Public Safety Assistant Chief David Carlisle relayed earlier in the day that although students were permitted to protest, setting up camp on the campus grounds was not allowed. This led to officers dismantling tents; however, the resistive crowd was subsequently seen circling with their tents in an act of defiance, attempting to dodge police efforts.

The turmoil at USC also follows the administration's decision to cancel valedictorian Asna Tabassum's speech over safety concerns, adding another layer to the campus tensions. As the university grapples with balancing free expression and maintaining order, the LAPD cautioned via Twitter to steer clear of the protest epicenter and to have identification ready when approaching campus gates for those with legitimate reasons to be there. Campus officials, and law enforcement are yet to comment on the day's full outcome or the number of any arrests made.