Stanford arrests 13 pro-Palestinian protesters, asks D.A. to file felony burglary charges

Students walk by graffiti near university president Richard Saller's office at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Stanford University said 13 people were arrested as law enforcement removed pro-Palestinian demonstrators who occupied a campus building early Wednesday that houses the university president and provost offices, with the school saying there was extensive damage inside and outside the building and an officer was lightly injured. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)
Students walk by graffiti near university President Richard Saller's office at Stanford University on Wednesday. The university said 13 people were arrested as law enforcement removed pro-Palestinian demonstrators who occupied a campus building early Wednesday. (Nic Coury / Associated Press)

Stanford University campus police arrested a group of pro-Palestinian protesters, who barricaded themselves inside the president's office, on suspicion of felony burglary charges.

The 13 individuals were arrested shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday morning after briefly occupying President Richard Saller's office in an act of protest. The campus newspaper, the Stanford Daily, reported that one of the individuals arrested is a student journalist.

Arrest records from the Stanford University Department of Public Safety confirmed that the arrests were made on suspicion of felony burglary. But the Santa Clara County district attorney's office has not received the case as of Friday afternoon and has not made a decision on what charges will be filed, D.A. spokesperson Sean Webby said.

The series of events started sometime after 5:30 a.m. Wednesday when the group of protesters, made up of students and alumni, took over Saller's office, vowing they would not leave until administrators met their demands to divest from Israel.

The incident was the latest of several protests on campuses across the country by pro-Palestinian protesters in response to the war between Israel and Hamas and the killing of thousands of Palestinians caught in the cross fire.

Read more: Stanford protesters arrested, seniors won't be allowed to graduate, officials say

By 7:30 a.m., police forced their way into the offices. Police arrested the 13 individuals and all were released from custody several hours later, Santa Clara County sheriff's spokesperson Brooks Jarosz said Friday.

Most were released on no-cost bail, but a couple posted bail "because they didn't want to comply with the conditions" from the court's pretrial services, Jarosz said in an statement. The amount for those who posted bail was set at $20,000, according to the student newspaper.

Students who participated in the protest were immediately suspended and seniors were notified that they would not be allowed to graduate, according to a statement from the university.

In the joint statement, Saller and Stanford University Provost Jenny Martinez condemned the group's actions and said that a safety officer with the campus police was injured during the occupation. There was also "extensive graffiti vandalism on the sandstone buildings and columns" in a campus quad with "vile and hateful sentiments that we condemn in the strongest terms," according to the statement.

"The situation on campus has now crossed the line from peaceful protest to actions that threaten the safety of our community," university administrators went on to say.

Read more: UCLA taps LAPD, district attorney, FBI in investigation of attack on pro-Palestinian camp

Editors with the Stanford Daily said in an opinion piece that the student journalist who was arrested was "falsely imprisoned" while reporting on the protest.

"His arrest constitutes a threat to the freedom of the press, including protection from unreasonable search and seizure, and we are disappointed in the actions of officers and the University," the editors said.

Senior Legal Counsel Mike Hiestand, with the 1st Amendment advocacy group Student Press Law Center, said California law bars police from “intentionally assaulting, interfering with, or obstructing” news gathering.

"We urge President Richard Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez to recognize the free press interests at stake and immediately work to drop all charges against a student journalist doing their job," Hiestand said in a statement.

Liberate Stanford, an autonomous group of Stanford University students that organized the occupation, accused law enforcement of “violently assault[ing] a peaceful student protester” as officers prepared to enter the building. It posted a video on Instagram showing a Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy in a helmet and tactical gear shoving back a student with a baton.

After the students were arrested, the university shut down activists’ encampment at White Plaza, which officials had allowed to remain even though they said it violated university policies on overnight camping, equitable access to the plaza and use of amplified sound.

Times national correspondent Jenny Jarvie contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.