The campus of California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A pro-Palestinian rally outside a university career fair in California turned into a violent confrontation after campus police barricaded the entrance to the protesters.
The president of California Polytechnic University of San Luis Obispo, often referred to as Cal Poly, said eight protesters — the majority of whom he claimed were not students — were arrested Tuesday after trying to break through the barricades using homemade wooden shields.
Several officers reportedly suffered minor injuries during the fracas with the protesters, but declined medical treatment, President Jeffrey Armstrong wrote in a campus-wide email Tuesday night.
“We should never confuse the right to voice an opinion with the desire to force that view on others or engage in violence,” Armstrong wrote. (The Forward has viewed a copy of the email. Armstrong’s office at Cal Poly did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
The demonstrators were protesting the career fair because Lockheed Martin, a defense company that sells fighter jets and other arms to Israel, was there to recruit students.
A flyer distributed at the protest reportedly claimed, “By continuing its career services sponsorship with companies like Lockheed and recruiting technical labor for producing these weapons, Cal Poly is complicit in genocide.”
The Mustang NewsCal Poly’s student paper, reported that the career fair had to be paused for 30 minutes because of the incident, videos of which appeared on social media Tuesday.
In one video posted to Instagram Stories by the Mustang Newscampus police officers can be seen fighting to hold back several protesters — all of whom were clad in black, some wielding signs demanding a cease-fire — as they push the barricades forward. Protesters can be heard chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” in the background.
Another video shows the officers wrestling protesters to the ground. One officer appeared to repeatedly strike a protester on the ground.
Located about 200 miles north of Los Angeles on the California coast, Cal Poly is one of the country’s top-ranked public engineering schools.
It is one of several public universities in California that has become the site of alleged antisemitic incidents since Oct. 7. A pair of Jewish Cal Poly students reported that a passing truck yelled “Death to Israel” at them the day after the Hamas attacks, in which more than 1,100 people were killed in Southern Israel, the majority of them civilians.
“It sickens me that something like this would happen on our campus,” Armstrong wrote at the time.