Cal Poly Humboldt protesters open Siemens Hall

No protesters arrested.

A first look at the vandalism to Dr. Tom Jackson's office on the campus of Cal Poly Humboldt. Friday, April 26, 2024

Just before five p.m. on Friday, protesters began disassembling barricades around Siemens Hall on Cal Poly Humboldt’s campus. When the barricades were gone, members of the community and media were allowed inside to see what was left behind after five days of occupation and protests.

On the main floor, messages of “Free Gaza” and “Occupy CPH” were written in spray paint and permanent marker along with longer messages and poems. There was also a great deal of profanity laced within the messages.

During the occupation, protesters accessed Dr. Tom Jackson’s office and scrawled messages across his inner office, personal bathroom, and conference room walls and table. One message on the toilet lid read “no guns, no war.”

Earlier in the day, Cal Poly Humboldt sent a message to students that a period of amnesty would be from two to four p.m. in which students could walk away from the protest without repercussions.

That was later extended to five o’clock after the university sent this message via email:

“Those who walk out peacefully by the deadline will not be immediately arrested and will be able to leave campus without being arrested. This does not, however, eliminate University conduct-related sanctions or legal implications. In addition, voluntarily departing in this way will be considered as a mitigating factor in University conduct processes and may reduce the severity of sanctions imposed.”

Dean of Students, Mitch Mitchell, told Redwood News they also needed to consider what came next.

“I think it’s also important to have restorative practices and how do we restore back the harm or the trauma that’s been associated with that campus in the back and the business and what that could mean,” Mitchell said.

During the amnesty period, several students quietly took down their tents and temporary camps and left the area.

Around four o’clock, protesters could be seen gearing up for what they believed would be a siege by law enforcement. Protesters strengthened barricades to the quad and to Siemens Hall. They also made makeshift shields out of trash can lids and other pieces of metal.

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal was seen leaving campus after speaking to a few protesters. He did not want to go on camera but told Redwood News that he hoped for a peaceful outcome to the occupation.

When we asked if deputies planned to arrest anyone, he said he didn’t discuss tactical situations.

A faculty member later told us that the sheriff was there on his own volition, and not in an official capacity.

For five days, pro-Palestinian protesters have occupied Siemens Hall. When the protest began, a heavy law enforcement presence responded to campus. It included members of University Police, Arcata and Eureka Police, Humboldt County Sheriff, Fortuna Police, and others.

Protesters sent a list of six demands to the university. Cal Poly Humboldt responded early Friday.

It’s unclear what’s next for the protest. One faculty member said it was an “open occupation” but could not define what that would mean.

With the dismantling of barricades and opening of Siemens Hall, home to administrative offices, Redwood News journalists witnessed protesters putting doors, chairs, and desks back in their rightful place.

Protesters said if the university met their demands, they’d help paint over the graffiti, but as of seven o’clock, that hadn’t begun.

Cal Poly Humboldt is closed through May 10th, the day before graduation.

The fate of graduation ceremonies is unclear, but both students and faculty both hoped things would work out for seniors to have their public ceremony.