More than a dozen arrests as pro-Palestinian protesters occupy Stanford University president’s office

More than a dozen pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested and a public safety officer was injured on Wednesday at Stanford University, the school said, after demonstrators broke into and occupied the office of the president demanding divestment, transparency and amnesty.

Shortly after 8 a.m. local time, about two hours after the protesters said they entered, the building had been cleared, secured and 13 people arrested, the university said.

There was “extensive damage to the interior and exterior of the building,” which has been shut down for the remainder of the day. The public safety officer was injured after being shoved by protesters interfering with a transport vehicle, according to the university.

The damage included “extensive graffiti vandalism on the sandstone buildings and columns of the Main Quad,” said an online statement to the Stanford community, adding that it conveyed “vile and hateful sentiments that we condemn in the strongest terms.”

Stanford said the “arrested students will be immediately suspended and in case any of them are seniors, they will not be allowed to graduate.”

“We are appalled that our students chose to take this action and we will work with law enforcement to ensure that they face the full consequences allowed by law,” the school said in a statement.

“We have consistently emphasized the need for constructive engagement and peaceful protest when there is a disagreement in views. This was not peaceful protest and actions such as what occurred this morning have no place at Stanford.”

The university said the protesters “unlawfully entered Building 10, which houses the offices of the president and provost.”

A campus maintenance worker carries a broken window from the office of Stanford University's president in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. - Nic Coury/AP
A campus maintenance worker carries a broken window from the office of Stanford University's president in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. - Nic Coury/AP

The university urged people to stay away from the Main Quad, in the heart of the California campus, and said no other campus operations were affected.

About 10 students had been barricaded inside the building while dozens of others linked arms outside, according to the student newspaper, The Stanford Daily. It is the last day of spring classes, according to the university calendar.

The university said law enforcement also removed an encampment at White Plaza that had “violated a number of university policies since its installation” last month.

“The situation on campus has now crossed the line from peaceful protest to actions that threaten the safety of our community,” said the statement from Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez to the university community.

“There continue to be many ways for members of our community to engage in the peaceful expression of diverse viewpoints on important global issues, in a manner consistent with our university policies,” the statement said.

Liberate Stanford had said in a statement earlier Wednesday that protesters barricaded in the president’s office would not leave “until Stanford Administration and the Stanford Board of Trustees meet our demands and take action to address their role in enabling and profiting from the ongoing genocide in Gaza.”

The group disavowed acts of vandalism carried out by some protesters, which include spray-painted messages and what appears to be fake blood spilled on the desk of the president.

“The intentions of this movement are not to create unnecessary labor for service workers, and we refuse to have our uprising hijacked by unknown agitators,” the group said in a social media post.

The post said the group of students and alumni entered and barricaded themselves in Saller’s office at about 6 a.m. local time. The group accuses Stanford of being unwilling to engage with protestors and their demands, and using “our tuition, our donations and our labor” to “fund apartheid and genocide,” according to the social media post.

US colleges have been using law enforcement – along with academic suspensions and expulsions – t o quell student demonstrations since Hamas’ October attack on Israel, in which more than 1,200 people were killed and around 240 were taken hostage. Israel’s response in Gaza has further fueled deeply held views of students and faculty on all sides.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Natasha Chen contributed to this report.

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