California Highway Patrol Mobilizes with Zip Ties and Crowd Control Gear as Tension Escalates at UCLA Encampment

Violent clashes erupt at UCLA pro-Palestinian protest encampment, prompting university to cancel classes and launch investigation into police response.

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Mahnoor Jehangir
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California Highway Patrol Mobilizes with Zip Ties and Crowd Control Gear as Tension Escalates at UCLA Encampment

Violent Clashes Erupt at UCLA Pro-Palestinian Encampment, Prompting Police Response

A standoff has erupted at the pro-Palestinian protest encampment on the UCLA campus, with the California Highway Patrol gathering with crowd control gear as protesters use flashlights and wave Palestinian flags. The violence began on Tuesday night when pro-Israel counter-protesters lobbed fireworks at the encampment and attempted to dismantle the barricades. Campus police initially stood by as the two factions traded punches, hurled items, and used pepper spray and fire extinguishers.

The LAPD eventually arrived to contain the situation around 2 a.m., with 15 people reported injured, one requiring hospitalization. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block condemned the "attack on our students, faculty and community members" as "utterly unacceptable" and vowed a thorough investigation that could lead to arrests and expulsions. The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles blamed the university for allowing the encampment to remain, while the pro-Palestinian demonstrators criticized the slow police response and reiterated their aim to continue the protest until "the destruction of Israel" ends the "siege on Gaza and an end to the occupation."

The pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA has been the site of ongoing tensions and violence between protesters and counter-protesters. The protesters, mostly students, have occupied tents on Dickson Court and have tried to maintain a tranquil space during the day, leading prayers and hosting grief circles. However, they have faced harassment and disturbances from counter-protesters at night, including the use of megaphones, racist and homophobic slurs, and loud, disturbing sounds.

On Tuesday night, a large crowd of masked counter-protesters tried to break into the encampment, using violence and tactics like spraying bear mace, igniting stink bombs, and aiming lasers at the campers' faces. The protesters have remained defiant, despite receiving notice from the university that the encampment is unlawful and that they could face suspension or expulsion. The violence has prompted the university to cancel classes on Wednesday, and campus security, faculty, and California Highway Patrol officers are now guarding the camp, police.

Why this matters: The situation at UCLA highlights the escalating tensions and violence surrounding pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses across the United States. It raises questions about the role and response of university administrations and law enforcement in handling such protests and ensuring the safety of students and faculty.

The limited and delayed campus law enforcement response has come under scrutiny, with the university's handling of the incident criticized. UCLA administrators have ordered an independent external review of the university's planning and actions, as well as the mutual aid response by law enforcement. Mayor Karen Bass spoke to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and encouraged UCLA to deploy the LAPD to restore order and maintain public safety on the campus.

Key Takeaways

  • Violent standoff erupted at pro-Palestinian protest encampment at UCLA campus.
  • Counter-protesters attacked encampment, leading to injuries and police response.
  • UCLA condemned the violence and vowed investigation, possible arrests and expulsions.
  • Ongoing tensions and violence between pro-Palestinian and counter-protesters at UCLA.
  • Incident highlights escalating tensions around pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses.