Clashes break out between protesters and police before Pomona College’s graduation ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium

Hundreds of protesters clashed with police Sunday outside the Shrine Auditorium, where Pomona College held its rescheduled 2024 commencement ceremony.

Students, faculty and activists from universities across Southern California gathered in the area around 3:30 p.m. before the ceremony began at 6 p.m

RELATED: Pomona College moves commencement ceremony to Shrine Auditorium

The graduation ceremony was moved nearly 40 miles from the main campus in Claremont after dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters refused to leave their camp at the original location.

View of pro-Palestinian protesters at Pomona College’s graduation ceremony held at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday.

KCAL news

Shortly after the ceremony began, the group of protesters clashed with Los Angeles Police Department officers in the area before they were read a dispersal order for unlawful assembly.

According to police, at least one officer was injured by a blow to the head during the scuffle. They say this person was arrested.

Clashes break out between police and pro-Palestinian protesters before Pomona College’s graduation ceremony

The University of Southern California’s Department of Public Safety decided to close the school’s campus due to the unrest.

Late Sunday, Pomona College school officials released a statement following the ceremony that read:

“We were able to honor nearly 400 graduates this evening while their families attended a packed commencement ceremony in the historic Shrine Auditorium. We appreciate the patience of graduates and families with this year’s postponement.”

Organizers said this was just the latest salvo in their ongoing push to get Pomona College to divest from all companies and weapons manufacturers linked to Israel.

“By gathering outside the Shrine Auditorium, student organizers aim to amplify their demands and reveal the interconnectedness of their struggles, linking the fight for Palestinian liberation to broader struggles for social justice and dismantling oppressive systems,” said George Smith, a Pomona director separates from apartheid, it said in a statement early Sunday.

Smith’s statement continued: “Their message will be impossible to ignore: complicity in the oppression of Palestinians will not be tolerated and the fight for justice will continue to escalate.”

The college’s main commencement ceremony was scheduled for Sunday at the Marston Quad on the main campus in Claremont, but is now scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Shrine Auditorium near USC.

Individual college department graduation ceremonies were held Saturday at various locations on Pomona College’s campus, bypassing the previously constructed graduation stage and reception area where dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters are staying as part of an encampment.

On Thursday, large banners reading “People’s Campus for Palestine” and the Palestinian flag could still be seen hanging from the opening stage.

Protesters have vowed to remain in place and block graduation activities unless the college commits to divestment.

“Students stand ready to defend the camp until their demands are met and call on the college to consider the overwhelming support for divestment in their community,” Pomona Divest from Apartheid said in a statement.

Pomona College officials responded in a statement released last Monday, saying in part: “Our students, faculty, staff and alumni represent diverse viewpoints. “Throughout the year, college leaders have offered to meet with student protesters and will continue to do so. “We will promote the safety of all members of our community and pursue our educational mission from all perspectives.”

Protest organizers said they are refusing to meet with university officials until they agree to “preconditions,” including disclosure of the university’s Israel-related investments and a full amnesty for negotiators and other protesters.

SkyCal flew over the protest site, where graduation ceremony attendees were seen walking through the crowd of demonstrators, holding signs and chanting with Los Angeles Police Department officers nearby.

They said 19 students were arrested on April 5 while participating in a sit-in at the university president’s office.

In a statement released after that action in early April, Starr said some sit-in activists refused to identify themselves and “proceeded to verbally harass staff, even using a vile, anti-Black racial slur toward an administration official.” to use.”

Starr said the occupation violated college policy, but “as we have expressed in the past, we will work with students who exercise their right to protest unless that protest interferes with the rights of others.” Additionally, we require all individuals on campus to identify themselves upon request from campus administration or campus security. This is essential to the safety of our community, especially when these individuals are masked.