Police Mass at UCLA, Order Protesters to Clear Anti-Israel Camp After Violent Clashes

Clashes erupt at UCLA as police move to clear pro-Palestinian protest camp, exposing divisions over Israel-Palestine conflict on US campuses.

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Shivani Chauhan
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Police Mass at UCLA, Order Protesters to Clear Anti-Israel Camp After Violent Clashes

Police Mass at UCLA, Order Protesters to Clear Anti-Israel Camp After Violent Clashes

Hundreds of law enforcement officers have massed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus to clear out a pro-Palestinian protest camp. The order to disperse came less than 24 hours after violent clashes between the protesters and a group of masked counter-demonstrators left at least 15 people injured on Tuesday night.

The confrontation began around 11 PM when pro-Israel counter-protesters tried to tear down the barricades surrounding the pro-Palestinian encampment that had been set up to protest Israel's war in Gaza. The attack involved the use of metal pipes, mace, and pepper spray, with some protesters having to be hospitalized. Campus police were accused of doing little to intervene or protect the pro-Palestinian protesters, despite calls for assistance.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block condemned the violence and requested help from the Los Angeles Police Department. "A group of instigators came to campus to forcefully attack the pro-Palestinian encampment, prompting the school to call for outside law enforcement assistance," Block said. The university promised a thorough investigation into the incident and the delayed police response.

Why this matters: The clashes at UCLA are part of a larger wave of protests that have erupted at over 30 campuses across the U.S., exposing the country's ideological divisions over the Israel-Palestine conflict. The involvement of police in breaking up the demonstrations has drawn criticism from students and faculty who accuse the authorities of using force against peaceful protesters.

Similar confrontations between police and pro-Palestinian demonstrators have occurred at other universities in recent weeks. At Columbia University in New York, police arrested over 100 protesters and removed an encampment that the school had sought to dismantle for nearly two weeks. The NYPD made a total of 292 arrests across Columbia, the City College of New York, and Fordham University.

The nationwide campus protests began on April 17 in response to Israel's offensive in Gaza, which followed a deadly attack by Hamas on southern Israel. While Israel and its supporters have branded the demonstrations as anti-Semitic, organizers say the movement is aimed at defending Palestinian rights and protesting the war. The protesters are demanding that universities divest from companies seen as complicit in Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

UCLA officials said the pro-Palestinian protesters' behavior was "abhorrent" and could lead to suspension or expulsion. University of California President Michael V. Drake stated that the university must act in cases where student learning is disrupted and safety is threatened, but did not specify what actions at UCLA he found unacceptable. As of Wednesday evening, the pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA remained standing, with protesters vowing to stay until their demands are met.

Key Takeaways

  • Violent clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protesters at UCLA, 15 injured
  • UCLA calls for police assistance to clear pro-Palestinian protest camp, investigation promised
  • Nationwide campus protests over Israel-Palestine conflict, police accused of using force
  • UCLA officials condemn protesters' behavior, threaten suspension or expulsion
  • Pro-Palestinian encampment remains as protesters vow to stay until demands are met