Pro-Palestine Protesters Raise Flag of Palestine in Front of Police at UCLA

At UCLA, a pro-Palestine protest encampment was attacked by a pro-Israel counter-protest group, leading to violence and injuries. Police arrested at least 50 demonstrators and faculty members the next day, sparking criticism of the university's handling of the situation.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Clashes Erupt at UCLA asPro-Palestine ProtestersFace Off with Police

Clashes Erupt at UCLA asPro-Palestine ProtestersFace Off with Police

On Thursday, a tense standoff between pro-Palestine protesters and police at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) culminated in the arrest of at least 50 demonstrators and faculty members. The confrontation came less than a day after a pro-Israel group of counter-protesters attacked the protesters' encampment, drawing widespread criticism of the university's handling of the situation.

The incident highlights the growing tensions and polarization on university campuses across the United States, with protests and counter-protests sparking violence and raising concerns about free speech, academic freedom, and campus safety. As protests continue to spread, the response of university administrations and law enforcement agencies will be closely watched, with implications for the future of political activism and discourse on campus.

The pro-Palestine protesters had set up the encampment on Tuesday night as part of a nationwide student movement calling on universities to stop doing business with Israel or companies supporting the war in Gaza. UCLA officials initially tolerated the protest but declared the encampment illegal after Wednesday night's violence.

According to witnesses, the counter-protesters, wearing black outfits and white masks, arrived on campus around midnight and attempted to tear down the barricades surrounding the encampment. Fights broke out when pro-Palestine demonstrators defended their camp, with counter-protesters hurling objects and using pepper spray. "Horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight, and we immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support,"said Mary Osako, UCLA vice chancellor for strategic communications.

Why this matters: The violence continued unchallenged for three hours until dozens of officers from various law enforcement agencies arrived to restore order. At least 15 people were reported injured, with demonstrators claiming 25 of their members were taken to hospitals for treatment. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block called the incident a "dark chapter" in the campus's history and promised a review of security processes.

The police crackdown on Thursday morning saw officers in riot gear breach the encampment's main barricade, leading to a chaotic scene. Demonstrators sprayed fire extinguishers at the police, who responded with non-lethal devices. The California Highway Patrol reported 132 arrests, with protesters to be handed over to the university's police department. Despite the arrests, many demonstrators vowed to continue their protests, chanting "We're not leaving" and "peaceful protest!" as police moved in.

The incident at UCLA is part of a larger trend of campus protests across the United States, with over 1,300 protesters arrested at various universities in the past two weeks. California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass have both condemned the violence and called for investigations. "There must be a full investigation into what occurred on campus last night," said Mayor Bass, promising to prosecute those involved in violence or lawlessness.

As tensions remain high at UCLA, the future of the pro-Palestine encampment remains uncertain. The university faces scrutiny over its handling of the protests and the delayed response to the violence that erupted on Wednesday night. Ananya Roy, a UCLA professor, expressed her disappointment, stating, "It gives people impunity to come to our campus as a rampaging mob... The word is out, they can do this repeatedly and get away with it. I am ashamed of my university."

Key Takeaways

  • 50+ pro-Palestine protesters and faculty members arrested at UCLA.
  • Pro-Israel counter-protesters attacked the encampment, sparking violence.
  • 132 arrests made, with many protesters vowing to continue demonstrations.
  • California Governor and LA Mayor condemn violence, call for investigations.
  • UCLA faces scrutiny over handling of protests and delayed response to violence.