3 student protesters arrested on suspicion of trespassing after reportedly causing disturbance at KU library

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Participants in a Palestine solidarity event sit on the lawn of Fraser Hall at the University of Kansas on May 1, 2024.

Three KU students were arrested overnight on suspicion of criminal trespass on the University of Kansas campus after they reportedly caused a disturbance at a library.

A spokesperson for KU said a group of pro-Palestine protesters defied a final notice that their site on campus must be cleared by 10 p.m. daily beginning Thursday.

“Last night, the group continued violations of the camping policy well after 10 p.m. The group was notified again that they were violating policy and that they were not permitted to be on university property,” KU spokesperson Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said in an email Friday to the Journal-World.

The three were arrested without incident for criminal trespass at Anschutz Library when they entered and caused a disturbance as students were studying for finals, Barcomb-Peterson said.

In a letter addressed to KU Students for Justice in Palestine, the university indicated that KU’s commencement activities were beginning Thursday and that the university needed to prepare for an influx of visitors. The letter said that the university had allowed the group to exercise its right of free speech and that it had continually kept it apprised of university policies and consequences for infractions.

“The student organization has not reciprocated our good faith efforts,” the letter said.

KU’s Public Assembly Policy states, among other things, that KU reserves the right to disperse or relocate an assembly when a group has not complied with university policies or the assembly conflicts with scheduled operations of the university or a previously registered assembly.

KU’s commencement is scheduled for Sunday, but many related activities occur in the days leading up to it, including smaller celebrations and preparations like mowing.

KU promised a speedy response for policy violations.

“We we will take quick action using the necessary resources and reserve the right to further pursue formal discipline under the applicable university codes and policies,” the letter said. “Additionally, KU SJP bears responsibility for any and all actions of non-KU affiliated individuals who join your assembly.”

The student group has characterized KU’s action as an attempt to shut down the protest entirely, which KU has denied.

The group claimed in an email to the Journal-World that the KU administration had rescinded “the possibility of an administration meeting with the KU Students for Justice in Palestine,” and it alleged that dozens of law enforcement officials had seized items at the group’s encampment near Fraser Hall, including “water, food, medical supplies, and more.”

The Journal-World has reached out to law enforcement agencies for more details on a reportedly large police presence on campus after the protesters were warned to leave. KU has not commented on the number of officers on campus or what other agencies were involved. A spokeswoman for the Lawrence Police Department indicated that 11 city officers were on campus to provide security for KU police, but those officers “remained at the security post and did not issue orders for individuals to disperse or make any arrests.” According to a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, five deputies who were already on a patrol shift went to campus to assist KU police.

KU’s letter to protesters:

Notice to Protesters Handout 20240509



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