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NMSU faces criticism as more details revealed about Hadley Hall occupation


At least eight protestors face criminal charges following a mass arrest at New Mexico State University initiated by school administrators on May 9. 

An NMSU spokesperson confirmed that a group of administrators, some of whom were in the building, decided to call police to arrest people staging an occupation of the school’s administrative building. 

The decision led to criminal charges against students, one protestor becoming briefly hospitalized, the deployment of three police agencies and local criticism of NMSU.

“We condemn the actions of New Mexico State University for escalating tensions by calling city and state police, thereby suppressing the voices of these demonstrators. It is the fundamental right for all individuals to express their First Amendment right to protest and express their grievances, particularly in solidarity with oppressed communities,” NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (CAFe)said in a statement. 

NMSU administration officially responded to the incident on May 10. 

“Much like other universities around the country, we have seen students, faculty, and community members participating in Palestinian solidarity demonstrations on our campus for the past two weeks,” interim President Mónica Torres said in a statement, referring to the encampment nearby. 

A spokesperson said Torres and interim Provost Lakshmi Reddi were the top administrators involved in the decision to remove protestors by force. The group also involved NMSU police chief Andy Bowen. 

“We have said from the beginning that people in the U.S. have a Constitutional right to protest peacefully. People do not, however, have a right to interfere with university operations, damage property, or to spit on or strike police officers,” Torres stated. 

Torres’ statement, released a day after the protest, also failed to correct inaccurate information NMSU had put out during the incident. The statement claimed that 13 people had been arrested, but court records show that 11 people were arrested, not 13. 

It’s also unclear if all 11 will face charges. The Bulletin could only confirm, as of Tuesday evening, that eight people face charges. The charges are restricted to misdemeanor resisting arrest and trespassing. 

One protester faces a felony charge of criminal damage to property for allegedly breaking a window and one felony charge of battery on a peace officer for allegedly spitting on a police officer. That same protester had twice been tackled and tossed around by police officers during the incident before he was detained after the mass arrest, as witnessed by a reporter.

All 11 were released from jail the same night. Those with publicly available court records are set for first appearances at the end of May. 

The protest organizers, a local group of students and young people called Las Cruces for Palestine, confirmed that seven of the arrested are enrolled students, two are alums, and two are Las Cruces community members.

“NMSU administration has publicly stated their dedication to ‘open dialogue.’ We have met twice with administration, and both times were given vague responses, statements designed to ‘de-escalate tension’ rather than create tangible changes. But as NMSU leadership refuses to take a hard stance against the genocide of Palestinians, over 100,000 Gazans have been killed or badly wounded. The facts of the genocide are not in dispute,” read a statement from Las Cruces for Palestine. 

The statement went on to say: “The fact is, our so-called ‘open dialogue’ with the NMSU administration has left us no closer to serious discussion of NMSU’s complicity as an academic institution in the ongoing genocide. NMSU has yet to demonstrate genuine commitment to public dialogue with students or divestment; rather, our experience shows an apathy to the genocide and scholasticide in Gaza and a hostility to student speech.”

protesters, NMSU, arrested, Palestinian solidarity