What protesters are demanding as they occupy Alumni Park

Protesters have been setting up tarps and signs since before sunrise Wednesday, demanding USC take action against “the genocide in Palestine.”

The announcement adds USC to a growing list of universities rocked by similar pro-Palestine encampment protests across the United States. (Henry Kofman / Daily Trojan)

Editor’s note: This article was originally published under the headline “Pro-Palestine organizations stage ‘Gaza Solidarity Occupation’ at Alumni Park, latest in national wave.”

An encampment for Gaza began Wednesday morning at Alumni Park, according to a press release from the USC Divest from Death Coalition. The group plans to continue its “Gaza Solidarity Occupation” until the University meets the demands outlined in the coalition’s release.

“We, the USC Divest from Death Coalition, establish our occupation most fundamentally in solidarity with the people of Palestine as they resist genocide and continue in their struggle for liberation,” the group wrote in a mission statement.

The announcement adds USC to a growing list of universities rocked by similar pro-Palestine encampment protests across the United States. Columbia University was the first to see tents pitched on its property April 17, a practice that soon spread to other East Coast campuses, the University of Michigan and, just recently, UC Berkeley.

“USC’s funding of the ongoing genocide perpetuated by the zionist entity is reflective of maintaining imperialist interests abroad, as well as solidifying the shared ideology of amerikan and zionist institutions in preserving racialized oppression,” said one unnamed organizer, according to the group’s press release. “To not stand in opposition to the expressly racist violence here and abroad is to ignore the calls for solidarity demanded by the majority of the world.”

The release lists six demands of the University: “End War Profiteering and Investment in Genocide”; “Complete Academic Boycott of Israel”; “Protect free speech on campus and provide full amnesty”; “Stop the Displacement, from South Central to Palestine”; “No Policing on Campus”; and “End the Silence on the Genocide in Palestine.”

An organizer with the USC chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace said, as quoted in the release, that they were attending to “highlight and amplify the anti-zionist Jewish voice at USC and be in solidarity with the Palestinian fight for liberation.”

“We stand by our belief of free speech, resistance to oppressive systems and solidarity with our valedictorian Asna [Tabassum] and all other college campuses where pro-Palestine voices have been silenced,” the JVP organizer said.

The ongoing encampment demonstrations across the U.S. have been met with support and condemnation. Columbia’s university senate, comprised of students and faculty, is expected to vote on a censure resolution against its president, Nemat Shafik, for her decision to authorize the New York Police Department to clear the encampment and arrest over 100 student protesters.

As the encampments on the East Coast made national headlines, many labeled the protests as antisemitic. On Sunday, the White House released a statement on Passover, reaffirming President Joe Biden’s support for Israel and condemning what it said was “blatant Antisemitism” that “has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country.” On Monday, Shafik appeared to testify before Congress, where members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce questioned her about her handling of antisemitism on campus.

“In solidarity with the Palestinian resistance against genocide and with the protests of our fellow students across the nation, we will be here to occupy USC until our demands are met,” the USC Divest from Death Coalition wrote in its mission statement. “We will continue to liberate our campus spaces until the genocide is stopped, all universities divest and cut ties with Israel, and until Palestine is free.”

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