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Student's mother tried to stop vandalism of Tommy Trojan statue at USC

Amid the demonstrations and encampments set up at USC’s campus over the weekend, many families were on campus for a different reason – to take graduation pictures with their children. 

“This is the moment, it’s kind of like your wedding day for your education,” said Renee, a Mission Viejo mother of four, whose youngest daughter is graduating with the class of 2024.

Renee was standing in line to take a photo in front of the university’s iconic Tommy Trojan statue just moments before a woman, wearing a mask, spray painted the words “Say No to Genocide”, vandalizing the nearly 100-year old statue.

Renee is the woman who was seen in this widely-circulated video as she tried to protect the statue from the vandals.

The USC mother, who does not want to use her last name to protect her privacy, said her instinct kicked in to protect the statue.

“I just ran and tried to  get her away from the statue,” she said. “I already made a full circle around with her trying to create space and make myself as large as I could to prevent her from getting to the statue.”

Renee said the vandals took away a special moment for her daughter and many others who didn’t have a high school graduation because of the pandemic.

“It symbolizes hard work, sacrifice, perseverance – so any different things,” said Renee. “So having a picture with Tommy Trojan for us, memorialized a time in her life where all of her sacrifice, all of her hard work has come to fruition.” 

On Sunday, the statue was power washed and Monday, it was being protected by guard rails as workers continued the clean up.

LAPD has not announced any arrests in connection with the crime.

Joel Curran, USC’s Senior Vice President of Communications issued a statement in response to the latest unrest.

“Earlier Saturday, campus property — including the Tommy Trojan statue and a fountain in Alumni Park — was vandalized by individuals who are part of the group that has continued to illegally camp on our campus,” Curran said in a statement to the Daily Trojan student newspaper. “Despite repeated warnings, this group has also continued to disrupt our campus operations and harass students and others, in violation of numerous university policies.”

“While the university fully supports freedom of expression, these acts of vandalism and harassment are absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Renee said she does support freedom of expression, but this act of vandalism took things too far.

“Your rights only go as far as to not encroach on mine,” said Renee. “And so absolutely, speak your mind, organize say what you have to say, but you don’t have the right to disrupt what our students have worked for.


Source: NBC Los Angeles

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