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Police at Cal Poly carry out major operation to secure academic buildings, arrest 35 from anti-Israel mutiny

A university in California called in police to restore order after days of unrest on the campus resulted in anti-Israel agitators breaking and entering, and subsequently occupying, two academic buildings.

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, or simply Cal Poly Humboldt, condemned the “lawless behavior” when the agitators took over Siemens Hall and Nelson Hall East and called for law enforcement to take action.

On Tuesday, shortly after 2:30 a.m., law enforcement officers arrested 35 individuals when they carried out an operation tasked with clearing and securing the two buildings, as well as the surrounding area. The arrests were without incident and there were no reported injuries, the university said.

“The law enforcement action at Cal Poly Humboldt was essential to reestablishing order on campus,” said Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal. “When someone commits a crime and infringes on the rights of others, it becomes necessary for law enforcement to step in. I’m grateful to the agencies and officers who contributed to bringing safety back to our campus. I understand the widespread frustration caused by the campus closure, threatening behavior, and lawlessness we’ve witnessed over the past week. By restoring order, we’ve sent a clear message that the criminal and dangerous activities we experienced were not peaceful protests, but outright criminal behavior, which is unacceptable.”


In the university’s statement, it said the operation’s objective was “to establish control of the site; protect the rights, safety, and health of students and employees; eliminate the threat of violence and criminal behavior; and reestablish control of buildings and other property.”

Cal Poly Humboldt President Tom Jackson Jr. described Tuesday as a “difficult day” and said the dozens of arrests “breaks my heart to see.”

“This is a difficult day, it breaks my heart to see it, and truly nobody wanted to see things come to this. We’ve all watched this with great concern, and always with the sincere hope that it would be resolved peacefully,” Jackson said in Tuesday’s statement. “Unfortunately, serious criminal activity that crossed the line well beyond the level of a protest had put the campus at ongoing risk.”

The university’s president also praised law enforcement officers and faculty.

“I commend the law enforcement team for their effort in resolving this very dangerous situation, and I’m incredibly grateful for the many agencies who advised us and who came to our aid in our time of need. I’m also very grateful for our many staff members who performed far and above their normal duties to help us protect the campus and maintain operations,” he said. “Our focus for the entire time has been on doing all we could do to protect the safety of all involved, and we were very patient and very disciplined with that.”


Cal Poly Humboldt said Tuesday that the reclaiming of the school’s academic buildings was carried out by Unified Command, a law enforcement conglomerate with personnel from throughout California under the leadership of Sheriff Honsal and University Police Department Chief Peter Cress.

A crowd of protesters

In the statement, Cress similarly said he was appreciative of the various law enforcement departments involved in securing the campus.

“The University Police Department is deeply grateful to the local and statewide agencies that lent support to our campus during this event. The support was critical in restoring an environment on campus where learning and work occur safely. UPD remains committed to a learning environment where everyone can be heard without breaking the law,” Cress said.


The arrested activists face various charges, including unlawful assembly, vandalism, conspiracy, assault of police officers, and others, the university said, noting any charged university employees “could face disciplinary action.”

The university is scheduled to keep its campus closed through May 10.

Photo of the campus

Law enforcement officers will continue to closely monitor the campus until this time.

On Tuesday, the White House condemned violent protests after protesters at Columbia University in New York took over an academic building. 

“The president believes that forcibly taking over a building on campus is absolutely the wrong approach,” said national security communications adviser John Kirby. “That is not an example of peaceful protest. And, of course, hate speech and hate symbols also have no place in this country.”

He added: “A small percentage of students shouldn’t be able to disrupt the academic experience. The legitimate study for the rest of the student body, students paying to go to school and want an education ought to be able to do that without disruption, and they ought to be able to do it and feel safe doing it. And they certainly deserve to be able to graduate and participate in a graduation ceremony. So it’s rare to see these protesters take over by force a building on campus. And as I’ve just reiterated, that it not does not comport with the idea of peaceful protest.”

Fox News’ Michael Lundin contributed to this report.

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