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Riot Police Respond to Clashes at UCLA

Objects thrown, pepper spray used as counter-protesters confront pro-Palestinian movement
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2024 6:22 AM CDT
At UCLA: Fights, Pepper Spray, Riot Police
An injured person gets help at a pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA late Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Los Angeles. Dueling groups of protesters clashed at the University of California, Los Angeles, grappling in fistfights and shoving, kicking, and using sticks to beat one another.   (AP Photo/Ethan Swope)

Violence erupted on the UCLA campus early Wednesday after the university declared its pro-Palestinian encampment unlawful. Shortly before midnight, counter-protesters in masks began trying to dismantle the encampment while protesters held firm, some donning goggles and helmets. Several fights broke out over the ensuing hours, the Los Angeles Times reports, noting counter-protesters at one point threw a firework, wood, and a metal barrier at the camp. Some pro-Palestinian protesters also reported being hit by a substance similar to pepper spray and responded in kind. UCLA officials said they requested assistance from Los Angeles Police officers, who arrived in riot gear around 1:40am local time. "We are sickened by this senseless violence and it must end," said Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications.

Officers did not intervene in clashes but formed a line near the encampment, at which point counter-protesters began to leave, per the Times. KABC has live footage of ongoing police efforts to move a final group of pro-Israeli protesters. Ananya Roy, a professor of urban planning, social welfare, and geography, said she was "ashamed of my university" for its lack of response to the counter-protesters. "It gives people impunity to come to our campus as a rampaging mob," she said, per the Times. The university earlier declared the encampment "is unlawful and violates university policy." University of California President Michael V. Drake said campuses would "do all we can to protect these protests and demonstrations ... but disruptive unlawful protests that violate the rights of our fellow citizens are unacceptable."

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block referred to "instances of violence" and students being "physically blocked from accessing parts of the campus." He said Jewish students were left in a state of fear. The Palestinian Solidarity Encampment countered that "Zionist aggressors" were "incessantly verbally and physically harassing us, violently trying to storm the camp, and threatening us with weapons." It added efforts to end the encampment was a "continuation of a long history of attempts to shut down student activism and silence pro-Palestinian voices." CNN has more on the developments at other campus encampments, including police deploying "chemical irritant munitions" at the University of Arizona. (Overnight, police cleared pro-Palestinian protesters from the encampment at Columbia University.)

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