BREAKING: Pro-Palestine Activists Seize President’s Office, Deface Main Quad

BREAKING: Pro-Palestine Activists Seize President’s Office, Deface Main Quad

During a dramatic pre-dawn protest, thirteen pro-Palestine demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday morning after seizing the office of Stanford University’s Interim President, Richard Saller. At approximately 5:30 a.m. the protesters broke into and barricaded themselves inside Building 10, home to the offices of both Richard Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez.

University police were alerted shortly after the occupation began. Upon arrival, they found that the protesters had blocked entrances to the office. External walls and pillars throughout Main Quad, in which the building is located, were defaced with profane graffiti condemning the police, Stanford, Israel, and the United States.

Slogans such as “Death 2 US,” “Pigs Taste Best Dead,” and “Kill Cops” were spray painted across the historic Main Quad. In addition, Main Quad’s war memorial commemorating fallen veterans in the Spanish-American War was defaced with a message of “F**k Amerikkka.” The student protest group People’s University for Palestine, which organized the break-in, denied creating the graffiti.

By 7:20 a.m. officers had forcibly entered the building using a crowbar, breaking a window in the process. Arrests of demonstrators began at 7:35 a.m. and the building was cleared and secured by 8:19 a.m. according to Dee Mostofi, a Stanford spokeswoman. One public safety officer sustained injuries after protesters assaulted her when she attempted to defend a vehicle. Mostofi stated that the arrested students would face immediate suspension and that any seniors involved would be barred from graduation.

The People’s University for Palestine student group issued a statement listing its demands for relinquishing the building at around 6:00 a.m. It called on Stanford’s Board of Trustees to divest from companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Lockheed Martin, and Chevron, claiming that these firms supported Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip. They also demanded President Saller's public support for divestment from Israel, full disclosure of Stanford’s endowment holdings, and the cessation of disciplinary actions against pro-Palestine activists.

The protest coincided with the last day of spring quarter instruction at Stanford. Students arriving for their final classes in Main Quad were warned by security personnel about the disturbing graffiti. In the wake of the arrests, law enforcement dismantled the pro-Palestine encampment in White Plaza that had been standing since April 25th, as well as a nearby pro-Israel display that had been approved by the university. Materials from both encampments were loaded onto trucks, as participants expressed frustration with the lack of prior warning and unclear instructions for retrieving their belongings.

President Saller later explained that the “encampment has violated a number of university policies since its installation.” In a campus-wide email to students, Saller and Provost Martinez emphasized that the encampment was removed to preserve public safety, despite being allowed to remain without administrative approval for over a month. It is unclear why the adjacent pro-Israel display in White Plaza, which was sanctioned by the University administration, was also removed by UG2 staff alongside the illicit pro-Palestine encampment.

This demonstration was the second time pro-Palestine activists have broken into a university building in the last two weeks. On May 25th, a group of demonstrators marched into a mechanical engineering building while students were working inside, vandalized the interior with graffiti, and attempted to barricade themselves inside a dangerous lab space filled with potentially toxic and explosive gases and high-powered lasers. In response, President Saller promised immediate suspension for participating students and the University restricted access to various buildings on campus.

Nationwide, more than 3,000 people have been arrested or detained in similar protests. Most notably, confrontations at Columbia University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California have received national media attention. Today’s incident at Stanford is not unique; it is part of a larger wave of anti-Israel activism sweeping over American college campuses.

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