Protester arrested outside University of Utah commencement ceremony

SALT LAKE CITY – At least one person was arrested on the University of Utah campus from a small group of a few dozen protesters who had gathered as commencement ceremonies were set to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday.

As 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 that the arrest stemmed from something that happened earlier in the week.

A statement from the U of U said the woman who was arrested had nothing to do with the school.

Police and the university said the demonstrators would be allowed to protest if they remained peaceful while demanding that the university secede from the nation of Israel.

In the arena, the ceremony began with a message about the protest. A statement was released and read out saying that guests who wish to disrupt the graduation will be escorted out.

A message posted and displayed prior to commencement at the University of Utah on May 2, 2024. (University of Utah)

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

“We are definitely listening to you and you have the right to express your point of view. However, you have no right to disrupt this celebration,” Randall said. This statement was met with applause and cheers. “This is years of hard academic work from your colleagues. We will give you a moment, but if you continue to protest we would ask you to leave or you will be removed.”

Outside, as she was being handcuffed, the arrested woman said loudly that she was just standing there and doing nothing. An unknown person answered her loudly and the woman said she spoke to the media on Monday and was not near the protest.

“We call on the University of Utah to disclose, divest and sever all ties to Israel,” said Williams, a U of U graduate and protester.

Earlier this week, a protest leader was arrested and demonstrators protested outside the prison.

Nineteen people were arrested during protests Monday as police cleared protesters from campus.

Anna Harden

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