ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson Under Investigation, Placed on Leave Amidst Pro-Palestinian Protest Controversy

ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson Under Investigation, Placed on Leave Amidst Pro-Palestinian Protest Controversy

In response to escalating tensions surrounding pro-Palestinian protests on campus, Arizona State University (ASU) has taken decisive action by placing Police Chief Michael Thompson on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into complaints filed regarding his conduct during the events of April 26-27, 2024. Assistant Chief John Thompson has been appointed as Acting Chief during this period, as announced in an official statement released by ASU on Friday.

The ASU Office of General Counsel is overseeing a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the establishment and subsequent dismantling of an encampment located on the Alumni Lawn, a focal point of the protests. The university has committed to providing updates on the investigation’s progress and its findings upon its completion.

Thompson, who joined ASU’s police force in May 2008 following over two decades of service with the Mesa Police Department, assumed the role of chief in 2014.

Local media reports have shed light on allegations that Chief Thompson, while off duty and not in uniform, was observed participating in the removal of tents during the protest. ASU responded to inquiries from news outlets by explaining that Thompson’s appearance in civilian attire was due to his immediate response to the pro-Palestine rally after leaving a prior engagement.

Throughout the day of the protests, demonstrators were reportedly cautioned about the potential legal ramifications, student conduct code violations, and academic penalties associated with their actions.

Following the dispersal of the protests, ASU confirmed that over 70 individuals were arrested, with 20 of those identified as enrolled students. These students have been placed on interim suspension pending further investigation and disciplinary proceedings.

The incident at ASU is part of a broader trend of pro-Palestinian demonstrations occurring at campuses nationwide. Universities have grappled with varying degrees of tolerance and responses to these events, exemplified by the University of Arizona’s recent use of tear gas to disperse an encampment during a pro-Palestine protest.