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Tommy Trojan statue vandalism cleaned up, USC continues to operate at restricted access

Access to the University of Southern California’s main campus remains limited to students, faculty and staff following days of unrest that resulted in nearly 100 arrests, the cancelation of the school’s main commencement ceremony and the vandalism of the iconic Tommy Trojan statue.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Police Department issued a citywide tactical alert on the campus due to what the school described as a “disruption” on the University Park Campus. Pro-Palestinian protesters have set up an encampment calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and for the university to cut educational and financial ties to Israel.

With the continued demonstrations, one person was captured on camera vandalizing Tommy Trojan with the words, “Say no to genocide.” On Sunday, the statue was power washed; 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. President Carol Folt has made numerous attempts to meet with the students but they have declined these offers. We are hoping for a more reasonable response Sunday before we are forced to take further action. This area is needed for commencement set up early this week.”

In a statement directed at USC President Carol Folt and other top leaders, the university’s Undergraduate Student Government Executive Cabinet said on Sunday it was “deeply disappointed” in the administration’s response to the encampment on Wednesday – which resulted in 93 arrests.

“We recognize that the demonstration we witnessed is part of a broader, collective movement unfolding across college campuses nationwide,” the USG’s statement read in part. “It is crucial that universities safeguard the freedoms of all who are peacefully and lawfully protesting, demonstrating, or exercising their First Amendment rights.”

“To the students, we support peaceful forms of assembly, speech, and expression. To the administration, we expect better.”

In her first public statement released Friday, Folt condemned the protests.

“This week, Alumni Park became unsafe,” Folt’s statement read. “No one wants to have people arrested on their campus. Ever. But, when long-standing safety policies are flagrantly violated, buildings vandalized, (Department of Public Safety) directives repeatedly ignored, threatening language shouted, people assaulted, and access to critical academic buildings blocked, we must act immediately to protect our community.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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