Protester arrested outside University of Utah commencement ceremonies

May 2, 2024, 6:45 PM | Updated: May 3, 2024, 10:20 am

SALT LAKE CITY — At least one person was arrested at the University of Utah campus from a small group of a few dozen protesters gathered while commencement ceremonies were about to start at 6 p.m. Thursday.

As the protesters gathered outside the Huntsman Center arena, vans full of officers arrived and arrested one of the protest organizers. An officer told a KSL photographer the arrest was made for something that happened earlier in the week.

In a statement from the U of U, they said the woman arrested was unaffiliated with the school. In a probable cause statement officers arrested her on suspicion of criminal trespass, failure to disperse and disrupting a meeting or procession.

“The suspect in question remained on scene and continued to incite disorderly and unlawful conduct. She continued to scream and officers as they attempted to break up and remove the encampment.”

It said she was observed by officers and was later observed on body-worn camera footage.

Police and the university said protesters would be allowed to protest if they remained peaceful as they continue to demand the university divest from the nation of Israel.

Inside the arena, a message about protesting started the ceremony. A statement was posted and read aloud that guests who choose to be disruptive of graduation would escorted out.

A message stated and shown before commencement at the University of Utah on May 2, 2024. (University of Utah)

University of Utah President Taylor Randall was introduced and drew applause, followed by boos.

“We certainly hear you, and you have a right to express your viewpoint, you do not however have a right to disrupt this celebration,” Randall said. That statement was met with applause and cheers. “This is years of hard academic work of your peers. We will give you a moment but if you continue to protest we would ask you to leave or you will be removed.”

Outside, the woman being detained said loudly while she was being cuffed that she was just standing there and was not doing anything. An unidentified person responded to her vocally, and the woman stated that she was speaking with the media on Monday and was nowhere near the protest.

“We’re asking the University of Utah to disclose, divest, and cut all ties with Israel,” said Williams, a U of U graduate and demonstrator.

Earlier in the week, a protest leader was arrested, and the protesters moved to protest outside the jail.

Nineteen people were arrested at protests Monday when police cleared protesters from the campus.

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Protester arrested outside University of Utah commencement ceremonies