Timeline Unveiled: Alec Popivker’s harassment of Palestinian students spanning multiple universities

The following is a timeline of Alec Popivker’s engagement with Palestinian and Muslim students at Cleveland State, Case Western Reserve University, and John Carroll University.

March 25, 2022 – Case Western Reserve University 

Case Western Reserve University’s (CWRU) Student Justice for Palestine (SJP) group joined forces with John Carroll University’s (JCU) SJP and Cleveland State University’s Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) to host a collaborative event on March 25, 2022, commemorating Palestinian culture. However, Popivker staged a counter-protest outside the event venue amidst the occasion.

October 26, 2022 – Cleveland State’s Courtyard

According to a student, on Oct. 26, 2022, Popivker was in the courtyard preaching hateful rhetoric and making correlations between Palestinians and Nazism, as well as the KKK. He also drew a Swastika on a Keffiyeh. The Keffiyeh symbolizes the Palestinian resistance against apartheid and is popular in Middle Eastern and North African cultures. 

One student approached Popivker and attempted to explain the symbolism of the Keffiyeh to Palestinian culture but was told, “It (the Swastika) fits well here.” 

November 1, 2022 – Case Western Reserve University 

After Halloween, Popivker walked around CWRU’s campus dressed in Palestinian symbolism. He claimed that he was Palestinian for Halloween. Offended by his commentary and behavior, one student explains, “It reduces my identity and Palestinian identities to a Halloween costume, thus bringing prejudice to our campus and thus making Palestinians feel unwelcome or unsafe.”

November 2, 2022 – Popivker interrupts Gaza Speaker at John Carroll University 

JCU’s SJP held an event on Nov. 2, 2022, where they invited a poet from Gaza came to share his poetry. The poet discussed his emotions, life in Gaza, PTSD, trauma, and depression. Popivker began to spew hatred toward the poet when the poet opened the floor for questions. One spectator recalls Popivker calling Gaza a “fascist terrorist.”

After being asked to stop as the event was not political, Popivker resisted and was eventually escorted from campus.

The Cauldron spoke with a JCU student that was present at the poetry event, “We all felt very scared. It was very uncomfortable, and he was unpredictable.”

Other students that The Cauldron spoke with from JCU did mention having experienced online altercations with Popivker.

November 7, 2022 – Popivker contacted the National Lawyer Guild regarding a CSU student who works with NLG

Popivker directly messaged the NLG at CSU concerning a CSU law student. He accused the student of being an anti-semite based on her personal social media.  

The communications director of CSU’s National Lawyer Guild (NLG) told Popivker that they were uninterested in exchanging hateful media.

This began Popivker’s harassment of a CSU student who would later file for a protection order.

November 9, 2022 – Popivker encounter with CSU Police in the Law College

Popivker entered the building and disrupted a prosecutor panel event looking for the same CSU student. Eventually, CSU security escorted him out of the building. 

November 10, 2022 – Popivker’s contact with a CSU student

The student reported that Popivker emailed CSU’s Law School regarding the student’s admission and attendance.  

On the same day, Popivker also emailed the student’s employer in an attempt to get the student fired.

November 11, 2022 – Popivker’s contact with a CSU student

The student’s job advised the student to file a police report. To ensure the events were documented, the student filed a police report the same day. 

November 13, 2022 – Popivker’s contact with a CSU student

Popivker emailed the student’s employer and the NLG. 

November 14, 2022 – Regarding the CSU Student who filed the protection order 

On Nov. 14, 2022, The CSU student protective order was filed and granted. The document ordered him to stay 500 feet away from the student’s school and workplace. He was also instructed not to have contact of any kind with the student.

November 15, 2022- Popivker was served with the protection order

On Nov. 15, 2022, A Cuyahoga County Sheriff Deputee personally served Popivker with the protection order. Coincidentally, Popikver again reached out to the NLG. 

November 21, 2022 – Another CSU Student reports safety concerns about Popivker to CSU Police

Another CSU law student approached Captain Joesph Hunt at a safety meeting. The student reported Popivker was using images from the CSU Law School’s Facebook page and posting them. The student said they were concerned about his behavior. The student also referenced his commentary on campus and emails to other students. The student also provided Hunt with a document containing emails from Popivker to a CSU professor and student.

November 22, 2022 – The Cauldron comment request

The Cauldron sent CSU’s media contact David Kielmeyer an email asking for clarification on whether Popivker was banned from the CSU campus and whether the ban was temporary. 

No response. 

December 1, 2022, CSU – Protection Order Hearing

The first hearing for the protection order took place on Dec. 1, 2022. Members of CSU’s law faculty supported the student at the hearing.

Dec 2, 2022 – The Cauldron comment request 

At this time, The Cauldron was notified by a source in the administration that Popivker was temporarily banned from the university. The Cauldron contacted the university regarding whether the temporary ban was true, whether the school would move towards a permanent ban against Popivker, and why. 

The Cauldron was told, “The university is evaluating the situation. No decision had been made.”

January 3, 2023 – Third CSU Student reports online interaction with Popivker

A third CSU student contacted CSU PD to document the unwanted contact between themselves and Popivker. According to the police report, the student fears that the harassment may be of a “sexual nature.” 

January 11, 2023 – Banner theft is reported 

On Jan. 11, Kimberly Springer, the Director of Campus Engagement, reported the theft of CSU’s Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights banner. Upon investigation, CSU PD discovered the banner was stolen the same morning, and the zip ties were on the floor. The reporting officer also checked the security footage, where they identified a potential suspect in the theft.  

On Jan. 25, Popivker posted a photo on his public Instagram, admitting that he stole SPHR’s banner as an act of “civil disobedience.” He also posted a video admitting to the theft during his PNG hearing. 

January 18, 2023 – Popivker encounter with CSU Police

According to student sources, Popivker was on campus and asked to leave several times by CSU police. Eventually, he left the campus. 

According to an administrative source, Popivker was advised that there was a temporary protection order against him. At first, he attested but complied after officers showed him the order. 

January 19, 2023 – CSU goes to the City Prosecutor regarding the theft of the banner

After CSU gathered their evidence to take to Cleveland Police, the City prosecutor issued misdemeanor theft charges. According to Kielmeyer, the university requested the charges be issued as a hate crime. However, the prosecutor stated there was not enough evidence to do so. 

January 20, 2023  – The Cauldron comment request 

The Cauldron reached out to President Bloomberg and asked her to comment on the University’s decision to allow Popivker back on campus. We also asked how the university would ensure the CSU Palestinian and Muslim communities are safe on campus.

The Cauldron also asked if she or anyone from her administration would make a public statement supporting the Palestinian and Muslim communities at CSU. 

No reply. 

January 25, 2023 – Popivker encounter with CSU Police

Popivker was seen on campus by both students and faculty. He was asked to leave several times but failed to comply. He was eventually arrested since he did not cooperate with the police. 

According to their investigation, officers found that the protection order on Popivker restricted his entry to the protected person’s residence, school, business, and place of employment. Therefore, Popivker was not permitted on campus.

This affirmed that he was also not permitted to be on campus on Jan. 18, 2023. 

January 26, 2023 – CSU looked to amend the charge to a hate crime with the Cleveland Police Department 

Kielmeyer notified The Cauldron of their plans to return to the police department with new evidence (Popivker’s social media posts). He added that the university would look into whether the prosecutor will amend the theft charge to a hate crime. 

January 26, 2023 – Chief Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan 

Upon her review of the situation, Chief Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan stated that the term “school” on the protection order was exclusive to the Law School and no other parts of CSU. Another prosecutor deemed that “school” applies to the whole university. However, Jordan affirmed her opinion of the terminology of the protection order and maintained her position. 

January 27, 2023 – PNG Hearing Notice is served

An officer personally delivered the PNG hearing date to Popivker’s residence. 

January 27, 2023 – The Cauldron comment request

The Cauldron asked the university when the Persona Non-Grata was implemented and on what merits it was implemented. The Cauldron questioned CSU on whether they would release a statement supporting the attacked minorities on campus. 

Lastly, The Cauldron followed up with the school requesting information on the theft investigation and why he was not removed from campus on Jan. 18, 2023, despite the restraining order and his admission of the theft of a school organization’s banner. 

February 1, 2023 – Reply from the university

The Cauldron was told that the University initiated the PNG hearing process on Friday, January 27. The Cauldron was reminded that the PNG policy declares, “Visitors who have been designated as persona non grata are not permitted to be present in any university locations.”

February 1, 2023 – Popivker’s Virtual PNG Hearing 

The Cauldron received notice from multiple student sources concerning Popivker’s PNG hearing. He uploaded a portion of this hearing on his public Instagram page. 

In the video, he admitted to the theft of the banner, and when shown the video, he corrected Officer Pettrey on the color of his vehicle. 

February 2, 2023 – Arraignment for theft of the banner 

Despite his proclamations on Feb. 1, 2023, during his PNG hearing, he entered a not-guilty plea for the theft of the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Right banner.

February 2, 2023 – PNG Resolution 

An official letter was addressed to Popivker noting his behavior as “detrimental to the university community” due to the theft and removal of the banner and affixing items onto University property. 

February 2, 2023 – The Cauldron comment request

The Cauldron reached out to the university regarding whether Popivker was deemed persona non grata and if Popivker started the appeal process. 

Kielmeyer affirmed the disposition that Popivker was deemed persona non grata. However, there was no record of his appeal to his hearing at that time. 

April 26, 2023 – Popivker’s wife and his son engage with CSU students

On April 26, 2023, Popivker’s wife and son came to Cleveland State’s courtyard and engaged with students. 

May 12, 2023 – Palestine Culture Night

Students for Justice in Palestine for CSU, JCU, CWRU, and Kent State University hosted a Palestine Culture Night to celebrate Palestine culture and raise funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. 

“This is an extremely important cause for Palestinian children to receive the proper medical care they deserve,” read a statement from CSU’s SJP chapter’s Instagram.

However, amidst the occasion, Popivker and his wife staged a counter-protest outside the event venue.

June 21, 2023 – Criminal Pre-Trial for theft of banner

On June 21, 2023, Popivker entered into a guilty plea after previously pleading not guilty.

His sentence hearing is scheduled for July 19, 2023.

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