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Protesters supporting Palestinian rights disrupt event hosted by Jewish students at UC Berkeley

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UC Berkeley police evacuated an event organized by Jewish student groups after pro-Palestinian demonstrators broke open a door to the building and shattered a window.

At one point, about 200 protesters gathered outside the event site, Zellerbach Playhouse, holding up signs that read, “Stop the genocide,” and at times chanting, “Long live the intifada,” videos posted on social media showed.

University officials called the incident “appalling” and said police had to cancel the event and escort students to safety because of the number of demonstrators and the threat of violence.

“We had to make that choice between doing what was necessary to let the event go on, or protecting the people in the building,” said Dan Mogulof, spokesperson for the university.

In a message sent to university staff and students Tuesday afternoon, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Provost Benjamin E. Hermalin called the incident “an attack on the fundamental values of the university.”

The featured speaker at the event was Ran Bar-Yoshafat, an Israeli attorney and former member of the Israeli military. It was organized by Students Support Israel at Berkeley and Berkeley Tikvah, according to the Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s student newspaper.

Messages to the organizations seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in Israel and subsequent attacks by the Israeli military in Gaza, the university has seen multiple protests at its campus. But Mogulof said Monday’s incident was unlike past incidents.

“We’ve had other demonstrators, but not who were breaking down doors and windows,” he said.

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Social media posts encouraging demonstrators to show up to the campus helped increase the turnout outside the event. Mogulof declined to give specific numbers, but said police dispatched more officers Monday night than it had to any other protest on campus since Oct. 7.

School officials’ concerns were heightened when they became aware of a social media post by Bears for Palestine, a group on campus, calling for protesters to “shut it down.”

In the post, the group claimed Bar-Yoshafat was invited to “spread settler colonial Zionist propaganda about the very genocide he has participated in” and called demonstrators to show up by 6 p.m.

Messages to the group seeking comment were not immediately returned.

In social media posts, the group noted when the event was moved from one location to Zellerbach Playhouse, and posted video of demonstrators marching toward the building, chanting, “Yoshafat, you can’t hide.”

Other videos of the incident posted on social media showed protesters banging on closed glass doors.

In one video, UC Berkeley Chief of Police Yogananda Pittman is seen taking the microphone in a theater and evacuating the room.

“We are asking all persons to leave,” she says. The seats of the theater appeared mostly empty.

In the statement to the university, Christ and Hermalin confirmed the building was evacuated “to protect the speaker and the members of the audience.”

“We want to express our deep remorse and sympathy to those students and members of the public who were in the building, fearing for their safety,” the statement read. “We deeply respect the right to protest as intrinsic to the value of a democracy at an institution of higher education. Yet, we cannot ignore protest activity that interferes with the rights of others to hear and/or express perspectives of their choosing. We cannot allow the use or threat of force to violate the First Amendment rights of a speaker, no matter how much we might disagree with their views.”

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School officials said no one was treated for injuries at the scene and no arrests were made. Still, UC Berkeley officials said they are reaching out to staff and students and urging them to let the university know if they were injured.

Since the Monday incident, Mogulof said, the university has received multiple messages from staff, students and the community expressing concerns about the incident and its potential to lead to other violent incidents.

“We’re taking those messages to heart,” he said.

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Tragic accident claims life of outgoing Cal Poly SLO student during outdoor excursion

urlhttps3A2F2Fcalifornia times brightspot.s3.amazonaws.com2F6c2F752Fd171515e4655b41c0f0789d8107d2Fkenneth one

Tragedy struck the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo community as outgoing outdoor enthusiast and mechanical engineering student Kenneth Taylor fell to his death during a hiking trip to Big Sur. The 21-year-old junior from Richland, Wash. had been eagerly looking forward to the annual “Make Waves” Film Festival, an event he had helped plan as a member of the local Surfrider Foundation chapter.

Known for his passion for the outdoors, Taylor was a key figure in the school’s Alpine Club and a trip leader for the Poly Escapes program, which provided outdoor training and trip-planning services for students. His love for snow sports and rock climbing was evident to all who knew him.

In a campus-wide email, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo University President Jeffrey D. Armstrong confirmed Taylor’s passing, expressing the university’s full support for his family and friends during this difficult time.

Two men, one in a Santa hat with fake beard, pose for a picture.

Kenneth Taylor, right, was known as one half of “Kenneth squared,” a nickname he shared with friend and fellow Cal Poly SLO student Kenneth Bevens, left.

(Courtesy of Kenneth Bevens)

Authorities were alerted to the incident when the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance in locating an overdue hiker at Salmon Creek Falls and the Pacific Coast Highway. San Luis Obispo County deputies later discovered Taylor’s body at the base of a 12-story waterfall, ruling the death as non-suspicious.

Heartbroken by the loss, Taylor’s close friend Kenneth Bevens struggled to come to terms with the news. The two had formed a strong bond over their shared love for the outdoors and photography, often being referred to as “Kenneth squared” due to their similar interests and hobbies.

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Bevens fondly remembered their time together and the plans they had for the future, emphasizing Taylor’s positive and helpful nature.

As the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo community mourns the loss of a bright and passionate student, Kenneth Taylor’s memory and legacy continue to live on through those who knew and cherished him.

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