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Police arrest 8 pro-Palestinian protesters who blocked entrance to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Police arrested eight Pro-Palestinian protesters blocking an entrance to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this past week, the university told the the San Luis Obispo Tribune after the demonstration.

At least one Cal Poly faculty member was detained, according to witnesses.

At about 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, a handful of people set up wooden barricades in the crosswalk of California Boulevard and Campus Way.

The group gathered to protest Israel’s attacks on Gaza and to demand that Cal Poly divest from companies that support and profit from the war.

Numerous Cal Poly student groups, including Students for Quality Education, posted a call to action on Instagram on Thursday morning inviting people to the protest.

The Cal Poly chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America also posted about the protest on Instagram. In its Instagram bio, the group linked to a list of demands for the university.

The demands include that Cal Poly support an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza, create a supportive space for Palestinian students, faculty, staff and their supporters on campus, drop all charges against student protesters, and divest from companies “that profit off of war, prisons, detention centers and policing,” the list said.

Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said the university does not plan to divest.

“Cal Poly does not have a place in boycotting/divesting from certain countries,” Lazier wrote in an email from the Tribune. “International boycotts and divestment are inherently political and often involve complex and historic geopolitical issues. The role of the university is to serve as a content-neutral space for the free exchange of ideas, thoughts and discourse; the university is not a political body, and its role is not to create public policy and foreign affairs strategies.”

At about 9:40 a.m., some of the protesters linked arms and stood in a circle around the barricade, according to witnesses.

At sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., representatives of the Cal Poly Dean of Students Office stopped by to speak with the protesters.

Police detained two protesters at about 10:50 a.m., according to multiple witnesses. Police then ordered the protesters to disperse at about 11 a.m., the witnesses said.

“Police issued the protesters a dispersal order, as their actions were illegal and blocked a busy road, presenting safety concerns for themselves and for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in the area. When the protesters refused to cooperate with the order, police were forced to arrest and remove the individuals from the road,” Lazier wrote in an email to the Tribune.

At 11:15 a.m., two protesters had chained themselves to the barricades, and about 15 officers surrounded the pair. Sheriff’s deputies in riot gear formed a perimeter while police officers detached the protesters from the barricade and detained them one at a time.

“Cal Poly supports lawful protests and demonstrations but will not tolerate illegal activity,” Lazier wrote in the email. “Ensuring the safety and well being of all campus community members and visitors is a priority for the university, and Cal Poly will fully enforce the laws and rules governing its campus to maintain that standard. Anyone who jeopardizes or undermines that through unlawful activity or violations of university policy is subject to the consequences of their actions.”

By 11:50 a.m., the protesters and police officers had all left the intersection.

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