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Pro-Palestinian protesters set up encampment on the Sac State campus

Pro-Palestine protest sets up encampment at Sac State
Pro-Palestine protest sets up encampment at Sac State 03:45

SACRAMENTO – Demonstrators with pro-Palestine messaging have set up tents on the Sacramento State campus Monday morning.

The tents popped up in the library quad area of the school. At least a dozen demonstrators could be seen.

It appears the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is behind the protest. In Instagram posts that went up Monday morning, the group urged protests at the Sacramento State quad – calling for demonstrators to camp until the school divests.

SJP posted a lengthy statement outlining their demands while also calling on students at other schools across the system to join the action.

"We invite our students and community to join us as we camp for justice," the group wrote.

Those demands echo similar calls that demonstrators across the country have been pushing for in recent days, urging universities to divest from Israel in the wake of the war in Gaza. 

Other California State University (CSU) campuses are also seeing protests on Monday, including at Sonoma State where demonstrators have pitched dozens of tents. 

At Cal Poly Humboldt, demonstrators have occupied buildings on campus and refuse to leave – prompting the school to shift to remote work and close for the remainder of the semester.

Protests at other schools have gotten heated, like at USC where there were clashes with police and demonstrators

Sac State officials released a statement Monday afternoon, acknowledging the protest. 

"During this demonstration, the University is focused on ensuring that campus remains safe and instruction and critical operations can continue, adhering to the University's Time Place and Manner policy that governs on-campus speech and speech-related activities," the statement reads. 

Despite the protest, Sac State officials said the campus remains open. 

Sac State is only two weeks away from finals week, with commencement scheduled for May 17-19. 

The university confirmed with CBS13 that the Division of Student Affairs distributed an electronic letter to a representative from the SJP organization, allowing demonstrators to set up overnight lodging in the form of outdoor camping in the library quad from Monday, April 29 to midnight on Wednesday, May 1.

"If the encampment participants do not leave after midnight on May 1, the university will reassess at that time," said Sacramento State's public information officer. "The Division of Student Affairs has offered to modify the dates as needed. Campus is open and classes are still in session. We believe the encampment is occupied by students and community members."

"I love that this is happening," said Madelynne Gabriele who is a 3rd year at Sacramento State.

The pro-Palestine protestors propped up tents and tarps demanding the California State University System to disclose and divest in any group it does business with that supports Israel.

"It's worth every arrest, it's worth every encampment, every area where this is going on," said Sacramento State student Victor Rodriguez Tafoia.

Protestors and organizers of the demonstration wore masks to conceal their identity and refused to comment on the encampment to CBS13.

Sacramento State gave CBS13 this statement about the encampment on campus:

Sacramento State is committed to the exercise of free speech and maintaining safer spaces and conditions for those exercising their constitutional rights. We are equally committed to the safety and dignity of every member of our campus community.

This morning, a group of students and community members created an encampment in the Library Quad as part of a free speech demonstration. During this demonstration, the University is focused on ensuring that campus remains safe and instruction and critical operations can continue, adhering to the University's Time Place and Manner policy that governs on-campus speech and speech-related activities. 

Campus remains open and operational.

"It is engaging and we welcome free speech first and foremost at this university," said lecturer in ethnic studies Rashad Baadqir.

Baadquir took his class to observe the protest and learn from the history happening in real time. He does not believe the clashes that have been happening at encampments on other campuses will happen at Sacramento State.

"This campus is not a campus of confrontation and extremes that you see in the news on other campuses going on," said Baadquir.

CBS13 did not see any campus police spotted near the protest that plans to stay on Sacramento State until every demand the group has is met however long it takes.

"We do need to see a change and we need to see it soon," said Gabriele. "It's time for all of us to stand together and do what we can."

CBS13 also reached out to the CSU Chancellor's Office and Board of Trustees. The office released a written statement saying:

"The California State University values freedom of expression as a cornerstone of a democratic society and believes it is essential to the educational process. We support the rights of students and others to assemble peacefully, to protest, and to have their voices heard. At the same time, the exercising of freedom of expression and assembly must comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and CSU policy to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors on CSU campuses."

We also reached out to the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region. Marion Leff, co-president of the federation, said in a statement:

"We recognize the passionate viewpoints on both sides of this issue and support the right to peaceful protest and free expression. Our hope is that all discussions and demonstrations are conducted in a manner that ensures the safety and security of all students involved - regardless of their faith. Every university should create a campus climate where dialogue is encouraged, and every student feels valued and heard."

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