Students for Justice in Palestine released a new statement on social media Wednesday condemning the upcoming event with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro organized by the Young Americans for Freedom.
“We object to YAF’s endeavor to enshrine hatred as fact,” the statement read. “We object to USC’s callous disregard for marginalized students on campus. Above all, we object to this shameless attempt by YAF and its billionaire donors to push their dehumanizing political agenda.”
The statement follows concerns from SJP regarding miscommunication with Trojan Events Services about designated locations where the group will be allowed to protest. Assistant Department of Public Safety Chief David Carlisle said the University is not planning to block off any parts of campus during the Shapiro event. DPS is encouraging students to protest in areas away from Bovard Auditorium to avoid violence.
YAF has also spent an estimated $1,000 on creating a designated protest space, which will most likely be at Alumni Park, YAF chairman Maxwell Brandon said. There will be fencing at the space to separate those attending the event from those protesting to avoid potential problems, he said.
“They can protest all they want as long as they’re not getting violent,” Brandon said. “Unfortunately the school felt it was necessary based on past history at these events where people in our position have gotten violent.”
SJP said they will still protest at Tommy Trojan during the event.
In the statement, SJP added that by allowing Shapiro to speak on campus, the University is disregarding the well-being of its students.
“As long as USC provides a platform for these ideas with students’ money, they enable violence, too,” the statement read. “Violence that we have a moral obligation to respond to, even if we do not experience it firsthand, and violence that we must protect ourselves from, when we do.”
The statement was tagged with the hashtag #SoundTheAlarm, which was used in a similar statement shared by the Black Student Assembly and other cultural assemblies last Thursday.
The initial statement erroneously said that the University was providing funds to YAF for extra security and that K-9s and undercover police officers from the Los Angeles Police Department would be present at the event. However, that is not the case, according to DPS officials; DPS will be joined by “a modest amount” of LAPD officers at the event, while the rest of the officers will be on standby.
“It is our responsibility to assess the needs and provide sufficient resources to ensure the safety of members of our campus community and event participants,” DPS Chief John Thomas said in a statement to the Daily Trojan last weekend. “Our role is to make sure that all parties on campus may safely exercise their first amendment rights in accordance with university policy.”