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Vanderbilt student arrested and expelled for role in anti-Israel sit-in has ties to White House

Details emerged this week regarding one of three Vanderbilt University students arrested for allegedly assaulting a security guard amid raucous anti-Israel protests inside an administration building late last month.

All three students who were arrested have reportedly been expelled from the university.

Moreover, one student protester was suspended and 22 students were put on probation, the Vanderbilt Hustler student newspaper reported, citing social media posts by the student activist groups, as campus officials have declined to state specifics, citing privacy laws.

Florida native Jack Petocz is one of the three arrested and expelled. He has vehemently denied he touched a security guard, posting on X: “I did not touch a community service officer, nor am I anywhere near the individual in the video. I’d implore you to trust a student activist over rich, powerful, white men, but that’s your choice.”

A security video published by the Tennessee university shows protesters forcibly entering Kirkland Hall, pushing past a security officer who tried to prevent them from entering.

Petocz, a freshman, is a veteran activist, even at such a young age. He justified his actions, and blamed the school for its actions, in a stream on X. He said he believes the school was wrong to arrest and suspend students “for peacefully protesting the genocide in Palestine.”

The 19-year-old is a semi-professional agitator, according to Red State, which described him as an instructive exemplar of “the various astroturf protests around the country.”

Petocz began his activism in 2020, after his family came down with Covid. He was irritated by a local school board member whom he thought was “recklessly tweeting COVID misinformation.” He started the Recall Flagler County School Board movement, “but quickly turned his focus toward advancing radical agendas,” Red State reported.

By fall of 2021, Petocz was busy protesting against local school board members who wanted to ban sexually charged books from the high school library. His activism led to attention from the New York Times, which featured him in a January 2022 front page article about the left wing response to conservative pressure on school boards.

As an outspoken gay student, he fought specific book bans on gay male literature.

“As a gay student myself, those books are so critical for youth, for feeling there are resources for them,” he said, noting that books that portray heterosexual romances are rarely challenged. “I felt it was very discriminatory.”

When the “‘(manufactured) hubbub’ over Gov. Ron DeSantis’s alleged ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill erupted in Florida, Petocz jumped right into the fray, organizing a statewide walkout in Florida high schools (around 30 schools participated, according to an interview Petocz gave NBC News),’” Red State reported.

Petocz was suspended for his efforts, including for passing out 200 pride flags for the rally after being asked not to by his principal.

Despite the suspension on his permanent record, Petrocz was given a prestigious award for free speech by PEN America, a free speech advocacy organization. After a fawning profile in Teen Vogue, he was invited to the White House to meet President Joe Biden and attend the signing ceremony for Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals. He got his picture taken with all the party bigwigs.

Red State reports that he took a position with Gen Z For Change, a radical activist group he worked with to try and defeat DeSantis in the Florida gubernatorial election in 2022. Then he finished up high school, and went off to Vanderbilt, having visited the White House a couple of more times in the interim, according to his social media posts.

Naturally, as a freshman at Vanderbilt, Petocz joined Students for Justice in Palestine in time for this past fall’s protests against Israel. Now he has been expelled from Vanderbilt for protesting in favor of BDS, or the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement.

This is a new route of the evolution of a radical leftist in America in the 2020s: from gay politics against the parent movement to radical pro-Hamas politics against Israel. It remains to be seen what Petocz does next.

MORE: Three arrested after officer pushed at Vanderbilt pro-Palestinian protest

IMAGE: X screenshot

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