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Protest encampment set up on Pomona College graduation stage

A group of demonstrators set up an encampment this week on and around the commencement ceremony stage at Pomona College.

The protesters gathered early Monday and vowed to stay there until demands are met. In a statement, organizers said they want the college east of Los Angeles to divest from Israeli-tied companies and weapons manufacturers.

“Students are prepared to defend the encampment until their demands are met, and call upon the college to heed the overwhelming support for divestment in their community,” according to a statement from an organizing group.

Several tents could be seen on the covered stage early Tuesday. A large banner was hanging from the side of the stage.

Monday’s action came about a month after 19 students were arrested while taking part in a sit-in at the university president’s office.

Commencement events begin Friday with the Baccalaureate services of The Claremont Colleges. The commencement ceremony and reception is scheduled for Sunday morning.

Pomona College officials issued a statement in response to the commencement stage protest.

“Our students, faculty, staff and alumni hold a range of viewpoints,” the college said. “Throughout the year, college leaders have offered to meet with student protesters and will continue to do so. We will promote safety for all members of our community and pursue our educational mission, considering the full range of viewpoints.”

The college with about 1,800 students is about 35 miles east of Los Angeles in Claremont.

The demonstration came as Israeli forces took control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the Gaza Strip, pressing on with an offensive in the southern city as cease-fire negotiations with Hamas remain precarious.

The incursion comes after the militant group on Monday said it accepted an Egyptian-Qatari mediated cease-fire proposal. Israel insisted the deal did not meet its core demands. The high-stakes diplomatic moves and military brinkmanship left a glimmer of hope alive — but only barely — for an accord that could bring at least a pause in the 7-month-old war that has devastated the Gaza Strip.

The war began Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting about 250 others. Israel says militants still hold around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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