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UNLV says sign on campus defaced with ‘Free Palestine’ message

Updated May 3, 2024 - 4:38 pm

An outsider was arrested after she allegedly defaced a UNLV sign with the words “Free Palestine” Thursday night, according to university officials.

Citing protests across U.S. universities related to the Israel-Palestine war, which have led to thousands of arrests, UNLV leadership wrote in a letter that actions such as encampments and occupying buildings will not be tolerated at the Las Vegas campus.

“We know that this can be a highly emotional issue for some,” read the the letter, whose signees included President Keith Whitfield. “The UNLV administration will continue to have ongoing dialogue with faculty and student groups on our campus to hear their issues and concerns.”

On Wednesday, UNLV students protesting the actions of Israel forces in Gaza organized a peaceful “Walkout for Palestine” and demonstration.

UNLV said that campus administrators monitored noise levels and asked people in the group to stop using a bullhorn — an instruction they complied with, the letter said.

But the following night, according to the letter, a California woman vandalized a “UNLV Strong” sign at Pida Plaza.

She was arrested by campus police and trespassed by the school from all its campuses for two years. Officials said the woman, whom they did not identify, was facing a misdemeanor charge.

University spokesman Francis McCabe said the woman is not affiliated with UNLV.

The sign was removed and will be replaced before commencement later this month, McCabe said.

“The disruption of learning, protest encampments, occupation of buildings, and destruction of property that we have seen at other campuses goes against UNLV’s values and policies and we do not consider it free speech,” he said.

The sign was temporarily removed, the letter said.

“The incident serves as a reminder that UNLV’s policy on Speech and Advocacy and use of outdoor areas clearly outline the expectations we have for our university community and the community at-large relative to supporting and protecting free speech,” the letter said. “Violations of these policies will not be tolerated.”

The letter said that the policy applies to the campus community and outsiders.

“To date, individuals affiliated with the university have generally followed these policies, and we appreciate their collaboration,” the letter said.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com.

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