Pro-Israel Protesters Clash with UCLA Student Encampment, Injuring One

Violent clashes erupt at UCLA between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters, raising concerns about campus safety and police response.

Mahnoor Jehangir
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Pro-Israel Protesters Clash with UCLA Student Encampment, Injuring One

Pro-Israel Protesters Clash with UCLA Student Encampment, Injuring One

Violence erupted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on Tuesday night as pro-Israel protesters clashed with a peaceful pro-Palestinian student encampment. Amid reports of assaults, racial slurs, and the use of fireworks and pepper spray, one person was injured in the chaotic scene.

Dozens of counter-protesters, many wearing white masks and flags, arrived at the encampment in Royce Quad around 10:45 p.m. and attempted to dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment. They lobbed fireworks at the tents and used what may have been bear or pepper spray. Skirmishes broke out as the counter-protesters tried to wrestle away the encampment's materials.

UCLA campus police and medical personnel briefly responded before retreating, and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) did not arrive on the scene until over an hour later, despite the escalating violence that included people being beaten and kicked, and barricades being used as weapons.

Why this matters: The incident highlights the ongoing tensions and conflicts between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian supporters on college campuses across the United States. It also raises concerns about the adequacy and timeliness of police response to violent confrontations on university grounds.

The pro-Palestinian encampment, populated by protesters demanding UCLA divest from Israel, has occupied portions of the steps and sidewalks of Powell Library and Royce Hall since last Thursday. Earlier on Tuesday, a man on crutches who was not part of the protests was tackled by UCLA security after trying to access a public walkway outside the encampment. There were also reports of demonstrators blocking students from getting to class.

UCLA officials condemned the violence, with Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications Mary Osako stating, "Horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight and we immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support." Chancellor Gene Block promised increased security and disciplinary action against students engaging in disruptive conduct, confirming the removal of the protest barriers and the initiation of the student conduct process, which could lead to suspensions and expulsions.

The recent violence at UCLA mirrors similar scenes at other college campuses across the United States, including Columbia University in New York City, where police have clashed with and arrested student protesters who had set up pro-Palestinian encampments. The incidents are part of a broader wave of student activism in response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

As of early Wednesday morning, LAPD and California Highway Patrol officers in riot gear had arrived at UCLA and set up a skirmish line to separate the protesters. University officials stated that they are investigating the incidents and have increased security presence in the area. "The campus must remain a place where people treat each other with respect and recognize their shared humanity, not a place for violence and bullying," emphasized Chancellor Block, while also acknowledging the concerns and fears expressed by both Jewish and pro-Palestinian students on campus.

Key Takeaways

  • Violence erupted at UCLA as pro-Israel protesters clashed with pro-Palestinian encampment.
  • Counter-protesters used fireworks, pepper spray to dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment.
  • Police response was delayed despite escalating violence, raising concerns about campus security.
  • UCLA condemned violence, promised increased security and disciplinary action against disruptive students.
  • Incident mirrors similar scenes at other US campuses amid ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.