Anti-Israel Stanford Protesters Injure Police Officer as They Vandalize President's Office on Last Day of Classes

13 students arrested after causing 'extensive damage'

Apr. 26 Stanford protest (Reuters/Carlos Barria/File Photo)
June 5, 2024

Anti-Israel protesters at Stanford University injured a police officer during a vandalism spree inside and outside the president's office early Wednesday, the last day of classes, and spray-painted graffiti reading, "Kill cops" and "the resistance." They locked themselves in the building with bike chains and zip ties, forcing law enforcement to break a window to enter.

Thirteen students were arrested, according to a Stanford spokeswoman. Stanford's Students for Justice in Palestine chapter in an Instagram post urged supporters to rally in front of a local jail where protesters were detained. The protesters said they were there to pressure Stanford to divest from Israel, disclose past investments, and drop discipline proceedings that  administrators have initiated for anti-Israel demonstrations.

"We are appalled that our students chose to take this action and we will work with law enforcement to ensure that they face the full consequences allowed by law," Dee Mostofi, Stanford's assistant vice president for external communications, said in a statement. "All arrested students will be immediately suspended and in case any of them are seniors, they will not be allowed to graduate."

Mostofi noted that protesters shoved and injured a police officer while they were "interfering with a transport vehicle."

The break-in and vandalism at the president's office, which the university said led to "extensive damage," are the latest examples of campus turmoil fomented by anti-Israel activists. Earlier this year, a mob took over the campus green for 120 days and harassed Jewish students. Last month, students launched a "People's University for Palestine" on campus, prompting disciplinary warnings from administrators—which in turn drew backlash from influential Muslim and progressive groups.

Wednesday's takeover of the president's office started at 5:30 a.m., the Stanford Daily reported, as about 10 students locked themselves inside with bike chains, ladders, and chairs, while putting tin foil over security cameras. Around 50 others linked arms around the outside, chanting and spraying graffiti.

Graffiti messages left by the protesters included "F**k Amerikka"--sprayed on a campus war memorial--"Death 2 Isr@hell," and "Free Palestine."

One protester, hiding her face behind a mask and sunglasses and wearing a keffiyeh scarf, posted a video of herself from inside the office. She declared that the building would be renamed "Dr. Adnan's Office" after Palestinian surgeon Adnan Al-Bursh, who died last month in an Israeli prison.

The video also features a photograph of Refaat Alareer, a Palestinian who was killed in a December airstrike. Alareer compared progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) to "an Israeli Neo-Nazi" after the congresswoman, who frequently criticizes Israel, condemned Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attacks on women and children. He also asked whether a Jewish infant who had been murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7 had been baked to death in an oven "with or without baking powder."

Stanford has seen high-profile turnover over the last year, after former president Marc Tessier-Lavigne resigned following claims that he included manipulated data in some of his research. Under his tenure, law school students shouted down a conservative federal judge in violation of Stanford's free speech policies, only to be defended by Stanford's diversity dean. Tessier-Lavigne was replaced as president by classicist Richard Saller.

Stanford is just one of many California campuses trying to manage anti-Israel disruptions as the academic year winds down. Across the public University of California system, tens of thousands of academic workers—graduate student teachers and researchers—are striking in alliance with anti-Israel protesters. So far, the strike has spread from UC Santa Cruz to UCLA, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and UC San Diego, according to social media posts from the union. California's public employee labor board has rejected pleas from UC administrators to end the strike.