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72 people arrested during Pro-Palestinian protests on ASU campus

According to a letter sent to students by the Dean of Students, students appear to be banned from campus
ASU Saturday morning protests
ASU protest
Posted at 9:17 AM, Apr 26, 2024

TEMPE, AZ — 72 people were arrested early Saturday morning amid a pro-Palestinian protest at Arizona State University that started Friday over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

ASU confirmed the arrests Saturday morning, saying the group set up an unauthorized encampment in violation of university policy.

An updated statement was shared with ABC15 on Saturday evening.

Read the full statement from Arizona State University below:

"ASU Police arrested 72 people for trespassing after they set up an unauthorized encampment Friday, in violation of university policy. Encampments are prohibited on Arizona State University property. Lawful demonstrations can take place except overnight between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

A group of people - most of whom were not ASU students, faculty or staff - created an encampment and demonstration that continued until well past 11 p.m.when the group was instructed repeatedly to disperse. Individuals who refused to leave after numerous warnings were arrested and charged with criminal trespass. Of the 72 arrested throughout the day Friday, 15 were ASU students; about 80 percent of those arrested were not students.

While the university will continue to be an environment that embraces freedom of speech, ASU's first priority is to create a safe and secure environment that supports teaching and learning."

On Monday, ABC15 obtained a letter that was sent by Dr. Brian Reece, the Assistant Dean of Students on Friday, the first line stating the following:

“Effective immediately, you are placed on Interim Suspension and are trespassed from all property owned, leased, operated, or under the control of ASU.”

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office also shared a statement on Saturday:

"The courts, not the County Attorney, makes the decision whether probable cause exists in these cases; the court also sets what it believes is appropriate bail. No charging decisions have been made yet. I take this situation very seriously and intend to continue to monitor each case closely. The people involved must be held accountable for their actions."

Protesters started to form a group in front of Old Main near College Avenue and University Drive on the ASU campus around 9 a.m. Friday.

The protesters are asking for ASU to cut ties with Israel and for ASU President Michael Crow to resign among other things.

ASU police showed up minutes later and began to place several people in handcuffs.

Protesters chant during Israel-Hamas conflict protest at ASU

Tempe police say they assisted with gathering resources in the protest.

An ASU spokesperson provided the following statement to ABC15 regarding the earlier arrests:

ASU Police arrested three individuals Friday for trespassing in connection with setting up an unauthorized encampment, in violation of university policy. Encampments are prohibited on Arizona State University property.

Demonstrations, protests and expressions of free speech are protected at Arizona State University, consistent with the First Amendment. Peaceful expression of views is always acceptable – but demonstrations cannot disrupt university operations. ASU is committed to maintaining a secure environment for everyone.

Several of those who were arrested appeared in court on Saturday evening, and face one count of criminal trespass, a class 3 misdemeanor.

ASU protest

At colleges across the United States, students are leading protests against the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as well as institutional ties between universities and Israel.

These protests have prompted the deployment of law enforcement in many cases, resulting in the arrests of hundreds of students and some injured officers on campuses.

No injuries have been reported in Friday's protest at ASU.

Another storyline that emerged Friday was the ASU police chief’s role in responding to the protest.

ABC15 cameras captured Chief Michael Thompson removing tents from the protest area. The university says Thompson was wearing ‘business casual’ clothes on scene because he’d just left a meeting to respond to the protest.

The ABC15 Investigators also obtained video from a person at the protest who does not wish to be identified. The video shows the chief admitting to cutting a tent with a knife and later appearing to knock a phone out of the person’s hand.

ABC15 reached out to ASU and ASU Police for comment on that encounter. They told us they do not have a response.

This is a developing story. Stay with ABC15 and abc15.com for the latest information.