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Home / News / Politics / Police dismantle UCLA Palestine encampment, arrest over 100

Police dismantle UCLA Palestine encampment, arrest over 100

by Staff
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Police dismantled a protest encampment at UCLA early Thursday, and arrested more than 100 pro-Palestine demonstrators.

According to published reports, the California Highway Patrol led the encampment-clearing operation beginning around 2:45 a.m.

Police initially encountered resistance from protesters near the west side of Royce Hall, while officers were more successful on the building’s east side. There police moved through a trash-bin barricade, reached the perimeter of the encampment and proceeded to tear down metal barricades and plywood planks that encircled the camp.

Officers then began detaining protesters and used flash-bang devices as they penetrated into the encampment. People inside the encampment wrote on social media that officers fired less-than-lethal projectiles at them, City News Service reported.

Students and supporters gather Wednesday after learning that police were en route to dismantle the protest encampment. | Photo courtesy of Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

By 4 a.m. officers had dismantled most of the east side of the encampment, but hundreds of protesters linked arms and faced an equally long line of officers. By 4:45 a.m. police had cleared the area and established positions on the encampment’s northern and eastern sides.

Some encampment occupants began to leave the area voluntarily at that point, walking west where no police lines were established carrying tents and possessions.

However, a significant number of protesters remained with the apparent intention of being arrested to support their cause.

Just before 7 a.m., CHP Officer Alec Pereyda told Fox11 that 132 people were arrested.

California Highway Patrol officers fence off the area of the protest encampment. | Photo courtesy of Darlene L, Matt Baretto/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

Classes were canceled Wednesday at UCLA after violence erupted on campus when counter-protesters attacked the pro-Palestine encampment. The hourslong violence and the school’s response prompted calls for investigations.

By Wednesday afternoon, UC President Michael V. Drake, in a letter to the University of California Board of Regents, said that there was “sufficient confusion” around the violent event to warrant an independent external review of the school’s actions and response by police.

According to media reports, tensions escalated around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when counter-protesters, some garbed in black and white masks, surrounded the encampment and lobbed fireworks, wood and metal barriers towards the camp. The Los Angeles Times reported that “at least one firework” was thrown into the camp.

Counter-protesters also attempted to tear down barricades around the pro-Palestinian group. There were also reports of pepper spray and/or bear repellent being deployed, though it remained unclear which side used them.

Pro-Palestine demonstrators clash with police attempting to breach the protesters’ encampment. | Photo courtesy of Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

In video from the scene, campers rallied to defend the perimeter of the encampment, which was declared “unlawful” by the school earlier the same evening, and fist-fights, some resulting in bloody injuries, repeatedly broke out as UCLA police seemingly looked on.

Police from several agencies in riot gear eventually moved in and cleared the area around 3 a.m. but questions now remain about when the school decided to bring in help and about how long that help took to arrive.

Response by the school and law enforcement was also met with criticism from the community and local leaders.

“The limited and delayed campus law enforcement response at UCLA last night was unacceptable — and it demands answers,” a spokesperson from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said in a statement. “As soon as it became clear that the state assistance was needed to support a local response, our office immediately deployed CHP personnel to campus.”

CHP said its officers were sent to the campus by 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to NBC LA.

In a statement sent at 12:40 a.m., Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA strategic communications, said the school had “immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support.” At 12:51 a.m. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said on X, formerly Twitter, that the LAPD was “responding immediately” to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s request for support on campus.

Media reports indicate that law enforcement began congregating on campus as the violence continued, but did not immediately intervene.

“Law enforcement sources said it took time for the LAPD, CHP and other agencies to mobilize the large number of officers needed,” the LA Times reported. By the time police moved in at around 1:30 a.m., many counter-protesters had already vacated the premises but clashes continued until 3 a.m.

“We are still gathering information about the attack on the encampment last night, and I can assure you that we will conduct a thorough investigation that may lead to arrests, expulsions and dismissals,” Block said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “We are also carefully examining our own security processes in light of recent events. … This is a dark chapter in our campus’ history. We will restore a safe learning environment at UCLA.”

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