Steve Garvey Holds Press Conference Calling for Action Against Pro-Palestinian Campus Protests

Dodger first-baseman turned GOP Senate candidate demanded “leadership” from politicians and school administrators.
April 25, 2024
Photo by Aaron Bandler

California Republican Senate Candidate Steve Garvey held a press conference at the Beverly Gardens Park on April 25 calling for action to be taken against the pro-Palestinian encampments on college campuses.

The former Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star referred to the protests as “terrorism … disguised as free speech … How do you do this? You go to the soft underbellies of our society,” he said. “Now it’s the campuses, great institutions who all of a sudden are lacking leadership, who all of a sudden saying that one group under the disguise of free speech can attack another. It’s time for us to stand up.”

He added that while he supports free speech, “demonstrations that allow people to build encampments that obstruct the pathway to classes and the opportunity to learn is terrorism.” He emphasized that  “these institutions have to be able to be supported… by our good men and women in local enforcement, in state and federal enforcement … It has to be enforced so that the will of the people is observed.”

Garvey stressed the importance of local leaders standing with law enforcement. “(T)hey’re the ones … who are standing on the front lines. They’re being abused, rocks are thrown at them, bottles are thrown at them. And what are they doing? They’re standing up to protect this country.”

Garvey outlined a series of actions that he believes need to be taken against the protests, urging “the leaders of Washington to bring forward the leaders of these institutions and ask them why they have forsaken their mission statement of providing an education for the future and protecting those students. How can you forget about a whole class of students you’re supposed to represent?”

He also called for “taking away federal aid” from “administrators and leaders” that “aren’t listening” as well as taking “away tenure from professors who are enjoining these encampments, enjoining these terrorists.” Additionally, Garvey advocated for District Attorney George Gascon “to apply the full letter of the law to these terrorists.”

“I stand for Israel yesterday, today and tomorrow,” Garvey later added. “As allies, there [is] no greater ally than Israel. We stand with them in technology, innovation and materials. We can’t back away. For those that support a pro-Hamas demonstration, an attack on Israel, I say: Not on my leadership.”

We can’t back away. For those that support a pro-Hamas demonstration, an attack on Israel, I say: Not on my leadership.”

He also challenged the media to “find out who are supporting these pro-terrorist groups. I’ll stand with you. I’ll support your free speech.”

Asked if he would support terrorism charges being brought against the students who are part of the encampments, Garvey replied: “They’re obstructing the natural flow of life on campus, and what they’re saying is they’re pro-Hamas. They’re pro-terrorist.” Upon further questioning, Garvey said “if it’s determined by the DAs, absolutely” regarding bringing terror charges against the students in the encampments.

“Let’s make a statement. Let’s be leaders,” Garvey declared. “This is Los Angeles. This is California. Everyone looks to California for leadership; where is it?”

Garvey was also asked about the decision by USC to not have any commencement speakers following controversy over this year’s valedictorian. “That’s leadership,” he replied. “They’re determining what they need to do. And I think the most important thing is to put the safety and security of the students, of the community, in front.”

The Journal spoke with Garvey following the press conference, and asked him if he would support the use of the National Guard being deployed against the encampments. “I think leaders will determine that. I think law enforcement will determine that,” replied Garvey. “Because their role is to protect the citizens of this country … I support law enforcement and their decisions.”

The Journal also pointed out that some of the pro-Palestinian protesters in these encampments were arrested and subsequently released; Garvey said that it “absolutely” is a problem. “That’s why I ask DA Gascon to step up, to prosecute these people to the full extent of the law,” he said. “Let’s not let them go out the back door and then be on a college campus 10 hours later. That’s what leadership is: Leadership is being the DA of Los Angeles and having your people feel safe and secure. State legislature, federal government … from California, you wield a lot of power, and it needs to be used at this time. So that’s why I’m imploring everybody that’s out there to step up now and not pander to ideology or party.”

Does Garvey plan to go to the campuses of UCLA, USC or elsewhere to stand with Jewish students? “Absolutely,” he replied. “I’ve been to other synagogues throughout California and listen to them speak. I have so many friends who are Jewish and have done a number of bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs … we’re talking about the roots and foundation of religion in Los Angeles and this country because it’s God’s chosen people. Like I said, I will support them yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

His message to Jewish students on campus right now: “Continue to have their faith, as I know they will. There are so many people who are supporting them, have them in the prayers, to be in safe … and again, just know that there are people who care about them.”

Also speaking at the press conference was Israeli Special Forces Veteran and Counterterrorism Analyst Aaron Cohen and Rabbi Chaim Mentz of Chabad of Bel Air. Cohen warned that the “incitement and rhetoric” at the encampments could lead to violence and “mass casualty-style incidents across university campuses.” Mentz said that “in Judaism we have a teaching: You let one little crime go, it grows and grows and grows.” “We have a thing in America — you want to go march in the streets? It’s not my religion, but maybe it’s the way of the new America,” Mentz said. “You can go in the streets and smash windows and get away with it. Today people are running through the streets screaming at Jewish people here at Hancock Park, over there in Pico, what’s going on is ridiculous.”

As a “Jew of history, he said, “I know where this turns.” But Mentz told the Jewish community to not worry and “hold strong. This too shall pass. We will be here tomorrow.”

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