Campus Police Chief Is Put on Leave After Arizona State Arrests

Arizona State University has put the chief of its campus police department on paid administrative leave, two weeks after dozens of people were arrested at a pro-Palestinian encampment there.

The decision came after complaints were filed related to the actions of the chief, Michael Thompson, in late April, when the campus police broke up the demonstration. School officials said on Friday that the university’s general counsel was reviewing the complaints, but they did not provide further details about the allegations or who had filed them.

At least 20 Arizona State students were among the people arrested after they refused to leave the campus. The students were temporarily suspended, and have since filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs the state’s public university system. The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Arizona, argues that the school violated their First Amendment rights.

There were also reports that the police had removed some women’s hijabs during the arrests. Those reports were being reviewed by the general counsel’s office, the university said in a statement last week.

Azza Abuseif, executive director for Arizona’s branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement on April 29 that she was calling for a full investigation.

David Chami, a lawyer representing four of the women, as well as many of the students who were arrested and suspended, also pointed to video reportedly showing Chief Thompson, in plainclothes, cutting through a tent in the encampment as it was being cleared out.

University officials did not respond to questions about whether those reports were related to Chief Thompson being placed on leave. The assistant chief of the school’s police department, John Thompson, is now serving as acting chief. The two men are not related, according to the school.

Anna Betts contributed reporting.

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