Protesters, Daily reporter under three suspect felony charges for Building 10 occupation

Published July 9, 2024, 10:07 p.m., last updated July 10, 2024, 5:17 p.m.

Stanford Daily reporter Dilan Gohill ’27 was among 13 individuals arrested for his presence at a pro-Palestinian student group’s occupation of the president’s office on June 5. All 13 were arrested by Stanford police on the suspicion of felony burglary, felony vandalism and conspiracy to commit the two.

Gohill was detained while reporting on the incident for The Daily. The other twelve, who were active protesters, included a former news managing editor for The Daily. She participated in the protest without The Daily’s knowledge and permission and has since resigned from her editorial position.

The individuals were immediately suspended, banned from campus and, in the case of seniors, not allowed to graduate. Gohill’s suspension and ban from campus was lifted, according to a June 10 update from the Stanford Report, because the administrators “do not believe he presents an immediate threat to the health and safety of campus.”

The report maintains that Gohill, along with the other protesters, did not have the right to be in the president’s office, even under the First Amendment.

It cites California Penal Code 409.7, which protects journalists’ right to cover protests. But the statute does not protect Gohill, the report states, because it applies to protests protected by the First Amendment involving police lines or rolling closures and “does not protect the right to break, enter, and/or trespass in a locked private building.”

The arrested individuals have a placeholder arraignment scheduled at Santa Clara county for August if they are charged by the district attorney’s office, according to a protester who chose to remain anonymous due to pending disciplinary action. 

The protester added that “the interim suspension left many protesters in the position of being “houseless, jobless, & with difficulty accessing medical care. That left a lot of people in a vulnerable situation and needing to rely on that broad community support.”

Sean Webby, communication’s director for the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, said the office has not received the cases for review.

The report also references a Letter from the Editors written by The Daily’s Volume 265 editor in chief, Kaushikee Nayudu ’24, and two executive editors, Emma Talley ’24 and Jessica Zhu ’24, on the day of the detainment. The letter defends Gohill’s right to be in the office as a member of the press. 

In response to the letter, the report states: “We would expect even a student journalist to understand that they had no right to be barricaded inside the president’s office.”

In a June 20 letter, the Student Press Law Center, the First Amendment Coalition and 24 other free speech and press organizations called on Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen to drop the charges against Gohill.

The letter states “it is difficult to see how charging Gohill with multiple felonies serves the interests of justice, especially because as a journalist reporting on breaking news he lacked the requisite intent for the crimes he is accused of committing.”

In a press release, Gohill’s lawyers admonished the University’s decision to charge him, citing similar reasons. 

“For a University renowned for churning out some of the brightest minds, Stanford leadership’s calls for the criminal prosecution of a young journalist covering a protest is decidedly dim witted,” Gohill’s attorney and spokesperson Max Szabo said.

Professional journalists have expressed concerns about the University’s actions. Bill Grueskin ’77, dean of academic affairs at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a former Wall Street Journal editor, said the University “needs to be very cautious about entering into a situation where they’re prosecuting a journalist who is at the scene of a newsworthy event doing his job.”

“Any time a journalist gets prosecuted while doing his or her duties, it increases the risk for journalists in this country and around the world,” Grueskin said.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the 13 individuals had been charged with the three felonies. This has been updated to reflect that the individuals were arrested on suspicion of those felonies but have not been charged and that DA’s office has not received the cases yet.

Greta Reich '26 is the vol. 265 co-Magazine editor, University desk editor for News, staff writer and copy editor for The Daily. She is studying Political Science and Communication and can almost always be found at CoHo. Contact her at greich 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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