California Republicans want to Take Financial Aid from Protesters if they were Violent

Groups of pro-Palestinian protesters gather at an entrance to their encampment at UCLA on the late evening of May 1, 2024. Law enforcement would eventually clear the encampment on the morning of May 2, 2024. Photo by Ted Soqui, CalMatters

By Alexei Koseff, Calmatters

As campus tensions escalate over student encampments to protest the war in Gaza — with canceled classes, violent clashes and mass arrests in recent days — Republican leaders in the California Legislature are calling for the state to use its upcoming budget process to punish demonstrators who they say have gone too far.

Senate Republican Leader Brian Jones of San Diego and Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Chico announced today that they would push to strip state financial aid from protesters found to have committed violent or criminal acts or violated other students’ rights.

They did not offer a formal proposal with details, but Jones and Gallagher said at a press conference that students who assault, harass and intimidate their peers or physically block them from attending class — as reportedly happened to Jewish students at UCLA this week — did not deserve to benefit from the Cal Grant program.

“You have to earn those,” Jones said. “We ought to be rewarding the students that want to use those Cal Grants to go to school, get educated and become productive members of society.”

Jones and Gallagher focused their ire on pro-Palestinian demonstrators, whose aggressive tactics they said have left Jewish students feeling unsafe and completely derailed some campuses, including Cal Poly Humboldt, which closed for the rest of the semester after protestors occupied an academic and administrative building. They largely sidestepped the attack earlier this week by pro-Israeli counterdemonstrators on the encampment at UCLA, which was dismantled by police early today.

“No violence should be condoned at all,” Gallagher said. “But let’s be clear, there was violence on both sides.”

The Republican leaders blamed university administrators across the state for not shutting down encampments sooner and Gov. Gavin Newsom for not intervening. They said they would also seek to withhold funding in the upcoming budget from University of California and California State University campuses that did not respond adequately to the protests — perhaps an amount equal to state resources spent on providing law enforcement and cleaning up damage.

“It’s outrageous and it’s unacceptable that we’ve allowed this chaos to ensue over weeks,” Gallagher said. “There does need to be accountability. Some people need to be fired.”

Any budget plans will require support from the Legislature’s Democratic majority, which did not immediately jump on board with Jones and Gallagher’s ideas.

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, an Encino Democrat who leads the Assembly budget committee and serves as co-chairperson of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, said he did not want to comment until he saw their proposals.

“These campuses are going to have to figure out how to move forward in a way that works for everybody,” Gabriel said. “That’s a difficult question and certainly something we’re doing a lot of thinking about.”

A spokesperson for Newsom’s office declined to comment but noted that the state has established a mutual aid system to provide additional law enforcement when college campuses request assistance. He provided a previous statement from the governor affirming that “those who engage in illegal behavior must be held accountable for their actions — including through criminal prosecution, suspension, or expulsion.”

CalMatters

Written by CalMatters

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. (Articles are published in partnership with edhat.com)

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78 Comments

      • Exactly right–with the extreme right wing weaving a massive web of interlinked conspiracy theories (“What we need to do is flood the zone with shit”–Steve Bannon, 2018) to convince a bunch of fucking morons that they are somehow being oppressed or are under some threat of attack, the drum beat of violence is increasing in volume. Guaranteed there will be right wing terrorism and violence spread throughout the country by this coming November if Biden wins and or Trump is convicted. The internet is also flooded…with a huge population of emasculated males sitting on the sidelines cheering for violence which the vast majority of them will never have the balls to take on themselves.

  1. “students who assault, harass and intimidate their peers or physically block them from attending class — as reportedly happened to Jewish students at UCLA this week — did not deserve to benefit from the Cal Grant program.” – absolutely. Any student who physically assaults or intimidates others should be punished to some degree, even suspended or expelled, depending on the degree of the offense. However, let’s not forget that most of the protesters in the encampments have been peaceful, albeit perhaps in violation of school camping rules. Those protesters should be immune from any punishment beyond the normal sanctions for those violations, if at all.

    I just hope that also goes for the violent Anti-Palestinian counter protesters who beat and attacked other students for hours at UCLA without any intervention by the police who were standing there watching.

    It is funny though, how rapid and vengeful Republicans get about protesters who stand for something they don’t, like end to racial injustice and police violence against black people, end to oppression, occupation and bombing innocent children, etc…..

  2. Is education so bad that people can’t distinguish that Jan 6 was a bunch of idiots, thugs, racists, freaks and common criminals who showed nothing but disrespect for law, their fellow citizens, and the greatest democracy in the history of the world? There is no comparison whatsoever to the 1770s era when insurrection was taken against a monarchic system that did not provide fair representation or legal right of protest. Trump could have gone down as a great President – instead he supported and continues to support and justify this kind of anti American criminal activity. Cheney and Pence and a few others are the true Americans and real Republicans. Without the insurrection Trump would be cruising to a landslide in 24. Unfortunately he has clearly shown that he doesn’t respect the American way and wants to drag us down to the autocracy of Russia and China. Too bad that a lot of people in the USA don’t realize what that means or even have the sense to care while others salivate exploiting it. Sadly that leaves us with Biden who is so conflicted about pronouns, willing to bankrupt the poor over climate, and unable to constitute cohesive immigration and foreign policy. But he’s still preferable to someone who would throw your democracy out with the morning trash.

    • LONGITMESB1 – while I don’t agree with you on Biden, or Pence really, I absolutely agree on the rest. Trump is so far from a true American it sickens me to see so many glorify him. Our country’s failing education system has contributed to this ability to be swindled so easily by the, often unintelligible, words of a professional con man and to truly believe his lies despite hard, clear evidence to the contrary. A large portion of our nation is following a cult, not Republicans. You can’t reason with a cult.

      I actually miss the old days of “normal” Republicans!

    • “Trump could have gone down as a great President – instead he supported and continues to support and justify this kind of anti American criminal activity.”

      Great, except for Jan. 6? I don’t think so.

      • Anonymous – The “great” president Trump will return to the White House in 2025 to MAGA. You and those like you best stock up on aspirin or whatever else you use to calm yourselves. As far as anyone having a “screw loose” you might want to review recent videos of the moron that is now reported to be a president.

          • I agree. When I ask MAGAns exactly when they define America’s past great time, they never have an answer. It’s a myth, similar to claiming that America is a Christian country or that racism has been solved. I think that if MAGAns would take a good look at Trump and their own wishful thinking, they might conclude that Trump is actually Satan, and that they are being duped by a con man. The only thing DJT cares about is DJT. He has no affinity for the general population, other than using them as a tool to massage his ego and achieve his personal gains.

            • PATRICK – absolutely right. Problem is, MAGAns are mentally (maybe even physically – yeah, they’re that backward) unable to think critically in any capacity. If they had that basic ability, they wouldn’t be MAGAns, right?

          • Another thing that I don’t get, is that people seem to forget how awful life was during the Trump administration. People ask “are you better off now than you were four years ago” and my answer is definitely “YES”. While net worth isn’t the ultimate measure of personal happiness, it is one component. During the Trump administration, our net worth increased by 40%. So far, during the Biden years, our net worth increased by 100%. This would be slightly affected by inflation, but not the magnitude of the difference. Besides monetary considerations, my personal happiness and peace of mind are much better now, knowing that a rational thoughtful adult has the keys to the White House, rather than an impulsive immature egotistical bully. Biden’s staff and appointed secretaries seem to have the best interest of their departments in mind. Trump appointed secretaries who didn’t believe in the purpose of the departments they headed (such as DeVos in Education and Zinke in Interior) and did their best to dismantle or nullify those departments.

            • PATRICK – more spot on points. Peace of mind is one of the most important measures of happiness in my book and, under Biden, I think most people have it. Trump was chaotic, an embarrassment and in my opinion, deadly (see how many died of Covid due to his “advice” about vaxxes) in his first term. The thought of the damage a 2nd term Trump could do is terrifying.

              Also, I have the privilege of being born a white, straight male, so my “peace of mind” about my job, healthcare, overall rights, is not close to what others felt during his last term and what they must be fearful of in his next, should it happen.

              Biden pissed off whiney Cons with all his pro-environment, pro-being good to others policies, but Trump could actually do real damage to people who aren’t born like him.

              People will actually suffer under Trump, not just have to watch their tax dollars be spent protecting the future of our planet or the livelihood of others.

              In other words, Biden didn’t hurt anyone. Trump did and will.

        • LOLZ. All you weirdos have is hate. Trump doesn’t hurt me. In fact I benefit from his economic positions and policies designed to place the burden on the middle class and scrape every penny possible for the higher net worth folks.

          But I know exactly what he is. I’ve known it for a long time. I know people that have been in his orbit from back in the 1980s and 90s. I know someone that was literally offered money by him to try and blackmail an innocent person–surprise, surprise, an attractive woman who rejected him. I know that he is nothing but a black hole of total power hunger.

          People who blind themselves to what the man is are quite pathetic.

  3. I’m more worried about what would follow Trump if he wins, than I am of Trump himself. By the end of the term democrats will mostly be in jail or exile and whoever stayed will be praying for Jared and Ivanka to run a coup when President Vivek, Stephen Miller, or Don Jr. step up to the podium. Lofl except we’ll all be crying.

    • Longtime – How many democrats did Trump jail or were exiled during his presidency? Did all positive results that Trump completed during his presidency only impact republicans, or all Americans, including democrats? Did you benefit by anything president Trump did while he was in office? It appears you are “crying” now. I guess Trump resting in your head does hurt.

      • I back and benefit meted greatly from the core Republican platform, and think Trump was mostly a good President and is a great ceo, but I don’t believe the election was stolen. Jan 6 and the aftermath is where I really get off the bus. I stand with Cheney, Pence, Romney, Brian Kemp, Nikki Haley, Cindy McKean, George Bush, and other decent people. I don’t support the NY show trial. But I do think paying off someone over questionable sex should disqualify just like it should have been for Bill Clinton, campaign violation or not. The gaggle of sycophants that Trump attracted is remarkable for their base criminality, carpetbaggery, charlatanism and general lack of morals. It will probably be horrible to see what is unleashed if they are given a chance. Look at how many are willing to get on their knees and just suck for him. Trump himself has more intellect than all of them combined. However, everyone knows he will turn on them and they will all turn on each other in a hot minute with the least bit of incitement. Don’t forget that the Nazis killed many of their own too. In 2 years America will be 250. Does anyone even care?

  4. If Biden had some balls none of these protests would’ve happened. He’s continuing to send guns and dollars to Israel as we speak and has been throughout the war there. Israel is killing innocent civilians left and right. To a lot of the world he’s making the US look like absolute fools.

    • So let’s get the story straight: Biden has no balls because he is supporting Israel, as the U.S. has done continually since WWII. But Israeli supporters say he’s not doing enough, and abandoning Israel because he won’t support an expansion of the war. Are the protesters anti-Israel, or pro-Palestine? (When asked, few protesters knew the difference, but have decided that “Jews” are the enemy. They conveniently ignore the mass protests against Netanyahu within Israel itself.) The protesters here blame Biden (as do you), for supporting Israel, while Trump blasts him for not supporting Israel. (“American Jews who vote for Biden hate their religion,” etc.) As for the rest of the world, they’re in it, too. Everyone abhors the violence, but few are willing to so easily place the blame on one side or the other. They’ve had too much experience with the region, unlike the protestors. Biden’s in the middle, and he’s trying to end it while being attacked from all sides. Trump wants to wipe Palestine from the face of the earth (like Netanyahu), and he’s being indirectly supported by protesters blaming Biden. It’s a strange, strange world we live in…

      • GERRY – great take on this. I do wonder though, where you read the pro-Palestinian protesters “have decided that ‘Jews’ are the enemy?” Is that something they’re saying? I keep hearing about all this vicious antisemitism by the students (I’m not talking about the hateful outside agitators and others out there riling things up), but haven’t seen many specific examples. Blaming “Jews” for this, would be such an example, but I haven’t heard that. Just interested to see where that came from.

        Myself, I consider those protesting for an end to the war and end to killing children in Gaza, pro-Palestinian. I could also see them being “anti-Israel” as they oppose Israeli actions and policies. But…. that is far different from being “anti-Jewish.”

        • These absolutes are not meaningful. I guarantee that, within the groups of student protesters there are people who believe and espouse Jew hatred. How many? No one knows. Is it the majority? I don’t think so. But it’s plenty. And it’s enough to spread fear throughout the Jewish student community.

          So just acknowledge that this is real and stop trying to discount or downplay the fact that Jewish people are experiencing the highest levels of Anti-Semitism in many many years.

          Personally, as I have stated many times, I oppose the current Israeli administration. But I’m not going to join these protests because, quite simply, although most of the protesters are probably not Jew haters they are marching side by side with people who absolutely are.

          • ALEX – sorry, I’m not trying to downplay what I know to be very real and disgraceful antisemitism in our country and throughout the world. I was just curious as I keep hearing (mostly from the right) that these student protesters are hateful and antisemitic, but haven’t seen too many actual specific instances other than the outside agitators who are exploiting the situation for their own gruesome opinions. Any student espousing such hatred should be sanctioned in some way, depending on the circumstances. Absolutely.

            • Thanks, absolutely this is all red meat for the right wing extremists who are constantly trying to stoke fear for their constant pursuit of power and their love of chaos in service of that.

              But the reaction to the right wing narrative that this is all driven buy anti-semites and shadowy foreign influenced forces creates a knee jerk response on the left to deny that yes, there is anti-semitism at work among the protesters. Not all of them, not even many of them IMO, but if you take a group of a thousand college protesters and you poll them on “Jews” you are going to find that they will mirror society and then they will bake that very deeply ingrained bigotry into their protests, sometimes not even consciously but sometimes absolutely with intent where they won’t necessarily say it out loud, but they will construct their arguments with elements of anti-semitic tropes.

        • My comment was based on a recent PBS news story where reporters interviewed protesters from around the country. When asked what they were protesting, most spoke of the “genocide” that Israel is committing with the help of the U.S. But far too many simply blamed “the Jews.” (The rise of antisemitic sloganeering and attacks on campuses reflect this. One campus tent city had a Nazi flag next to the Palestinian – an outlier, I realize, but still unnerving.) I neglected to mention in my comment the many Jewish students and other Jewish Americans are supporting and participating in the protests, along with the protests within Israel. I do, too, if the goal is truly peace. My point was that the protests should be focused more on achieving a ceasefire and an ultimate two-state solution and removing Netanyahu (as Israeli protesters are trying to do), than drawing the American presidential race into it. It’s not Biden’s support of Israel; it’s America’s long-standing commitment to an ally. If we abandon that commitment, what will America’s other commitments to our NATO allies and others be worth? I’m not saying we should support Israel blindly (and Biden is not), but they were attacked, and our policy is complicated, to say the least. Still, by calling Biden a “supporter of genocide” (which many of those interviewed did) the protesters only help Trump, who fully supports what Netanyahu is doing.

      • “Are the protesters anti-Israel, or pro-Palestine?”

        They’re against the ongoing slaughter.

        “but have decided that “Jews” are the enemy”

        Nonsense … a large fraction of the protesters are Jewish.

        “They conveniently ignore the mass protests against Netanyahu within Israel itself.”

        The protests against Netanyahu are not generally against the slaughter, but against how he has managed it and not brought the hostages back (they don’t care about the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails under bogus or no charges). Also against his corruption–his fraud trial has been ongoing since 2019.

        I agree with most of the rest.

    • If Biden had balls and a competent AG the Trump saga would have been settled a couple of years ago. He would be guilty or innocent and the 2024 election would be based on issues, rather than competing personality cults of aged demagogues

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