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Tensions Rise Again at UCLA Pro-Palestine Encampment After Weekend Chaos

UCLA Administration and Student Group Issues Statements After Late Night Incident

By Dolores Quintana

The Pro Palestine Encampment at UCLA reached its fifth day on Tuesday, April 30. While things calmed down from Sunday’s simmering anger, despite attempts to keep the two sides separate, things were not entirely peaceful. The audio-visual set-up that was funded through a GoFundMe and used for the rally on Sunday was still there, and a video was broadcasting as of Monday afternoon. 

On Monday night, around 11:30 p.m., counter-protesters attempted to break into the encampment. William Gude, a YouTube livestreamer, filmed the incident. This was not the only alleged incident of counter-protesters attempting to disrupt the encampment, but it was the largest incident. 

In the early evening on Tuesday, UCLA’s administration issued two statements. The first statement was from Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications. The statement said, “Yesterday, some physical altercations occurred among demonstrators in Royce Quad. In response, we have taken several actions to significantly increase our security presence, including adding greater numbers of campus law enforcement, safety personnel, and student affairs monitors. 

“There was also a report of a student’s access to class being blocked by demonstrators yesterday. This kind of disruption to our teaching and learning mission is abhorrent, plain and simple. As such, we’ve taken several immediate actions: Our student conduct process has been initiated and could lead to severe disciplinary action, including expulsion or suspension. The barriers that demonstrators used to block this student’s access to class have been removed, and we have staff located around Royce Quad to help ensure that they will not go up again. We have also engaged law enforcement to investigate.

“While the demonstration remains largely peaceful, our campus must remain a place where we treat one another with respect and recognize our shared humanity — not a place where we devolve into violence and bullying.

Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA issued an emailed statement in response to the UCLA unlawful assembly statement. This statement said, “Over the past six days, Zionist aggressors, the vast majority of whom are not UCLA students (including ex-iOF soldiers), have been incessantly verbally and physically harassing us, violently trying to storm the camp, and threatening us with weapons. Throughout these agitations, we have kept each other safe, and administration and campus security have done nothing but stand idly by. 

Now, the UCLA administration is attempting to clear us because they refuse to protect us. This repression tactic is a continuation of a long history of attempts to shut down student activism and silence pro-Palestinian voices. In a message from UCLA, the administration has declared our encampment “unlawful assembly” and have called for us to leave the area immediately, threatening “disciplinary measures” including suspension and punitive legal action. 

To the administration, 

This cowardly intimidation tactic is not only unconscionable but also a complete failure to defend the very students whom you claim to protect. It is a reassertion of what we have always known: you value monetary incentives more than our unequivocal calls to divest. We will not leave. We will remain here until our demands are met. You justify the mistreatment of students in the encampment in the same way you justify your complicity in the Palestinian genocide. You portray student organizers and Palestinians on the ground as the aggressors while refusing to acknowledge the fascist zionist militias’ blatant abuse of power both here on campus and in Palestine. Zionists threaten our safety every night by verbally, physically, and emotionally assaulting the students participating in the encampment. We rely on protecting each other.

To the students and other members of our community, 

Join us. The administration wants you to believe that this movement is futile. The Palestinian Solidarity Encampment is a progression of a long history of movements that those in power repress and criticize in the present before later celebrating and claiming as their role in social progress. While the administration publicly condemns us, they privately negotiate with us because the collective power of unified students threatens them. We ask you to mobilize and show up in solidarity with our allies across the country and the world. We will continue to remain here steadfast in our demands. Do not be discouraged; UCLA has divested before and will divest again. 

207 days. 37,000+ martyred. No universities left in Gaza. Remember that we are here for the Palestinian people. No justice, no peace – Join us. In solidarity, UCLA Palestinian Solidarity Encampment.”

Chancellor Gene D. Block sent the following message to the UCLA community on April 30 at 5 p.m. The emailed statement read as follows: Dear Bruin Community:

This past Thursday, a group of demonstrators — both members of the UCLA community and others unaffiliated with our campus — established an unauthorized physical encampment on part of Royce Quad, joining those who have set up similar presences at universities around the country. 

Many of the demonstrators, as well as counter-demonstrators who have come to the area, have been peaceful in their activism. But the tactics of others have frankly been shocking and shameful. We have seen instances of violence completely at odds with our values as an institution dedicated to respect and mutual understanding. In other cases, students on their way to class have been physically blocked from accessing parts of the campus.

UCLA supports peaceful protest but not activism that harms our ability to carry out our academic mission and makes people in our community feel bullied, threatened and afraid. These incidents have put many on our campus, especially our Jewish students, in a state of anxiety and fear.

In response, we have taken several immediate actions. We have significantly increased our security presence in the area, including adding greater numbers of law enforcement officers, safety personnel, and student affairs mitigators. We have also engaged law enforcement to investigate the recent acts of violence. 

The barriers that demonstrators used to block access to buildings have been removed, and we have staff located around Royce Quad to help ensure that they will not go up again. With regard to these incidents, our student conduct process has been initiated and could lead to disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion. 

We continue to encourage anyone who experiences discrimination to report it to our Civil Rights Office. If you feel you are in danger, contact UCPD.

I recognize that the suffering in the Middle East has had a profound impact on our campus, and we continue to hope for a peaceful resolution. While Bruins hold a variety of perspectives on this conflict, we must all protect the well-being of our peers and maintain an environment safe for learning. This is a commitment I call on our community to uphold as we navigate the weeks ahead.

Sincerely,

Gene D. Block

Chancellor

in News
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