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7 people to face felony charges after pro-Palestinian demonstration at University of Pennsylvania

Pro-Palestinian protesters to face felony charges after demonstration on Penn's campus
Pro-Palestinian protesters to face felony charges after demonstration on Penn's campus 02:28

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It was a calm day on the University of Pennsylvania's campus Saturday. Students were seen dressed in their caps and gowns as they prepared to graduate.

Meanwhile, former students were also back on campus for alumni weekend. The day was a stark contrast from what unfolded on Friday night.

A total of 19 people were hauled away in handcuffs after university officials said pro-Palestinian protesters broke into and attempted to occupy Fisher-Bennett Hall on campus. The university said the exit doors had been secured with zip-ties, and barbed wire and barricaded with metal chairs and desks.

The tense moments between police and protesters came one week after the university cleared a protest encampment on the university's College Green.

Seven of the people arrested in this latest incident are now facing felony charges including one for assaulting a police officer.

"It's definitely a distraction and a frustrating distraction," said Penn senior James Wolf.

CBS News Philadelphia talked with Wolf while he was on campus with his family. Wolf is set to graduate this weekend. He said it's disappointing that a moment he's been looking forward to for years is being overshadowed by the campus protests.

CBS News Philadelphia

"I just kind of wish that this will pass. I know as seniors at Penn we are all just trying to move past this and graduate and enjoy our time and it's definitely taken away from our four years and our experience here," Wolf said.

Alumni Ashley Staller has been back to campus for alumni weekend before, but she said the vibe was different this time.

"I was looking forward to walking through campus and strolling down memory lane and unfortunately things are blocked off and we can't," she said.

Staller said she can't help but think about how the protests are impacting the students.

"And typically for graduation, you walk all through up Locust Walk. I can remember clearly when we did it and my hearts break for them that they don't get to experience that," she said.

A university spokesperson said among the 19 people arrested, seven of them were Penn students.

It's unclear what kind of discipline they will face for participating in the protest.

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