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Mass Arrest of UCLA Students and Journalists Creates Uproar and Criticism of UCLA

Students, Journalists, and Former Mayoral Candidate Among Those Detained

UCLA’s Parking Structure 2 was the site of another mass arrest of UCLA students and others in the early morning hours of May 6. UCPD detained an unknown amount of students, one professor, two National Lawyer’s Guild observers, two journalists, including one with an LAPD-issued press pass, and Gina Viola Peake, a former Mayoral candidate who came in third in the last election. 

Journalist William Gude, aka Film the Police, was there and live-streamed the mass detention and arrests of Sean Beckner-Carmitchel, aka A Cat With News, a videographer and journalist who works with the publication Knock LA, and Gina Viola Peake, former Mayoral candidate. 

You can watch the live stream of the arrests here: 

Originally, the students were detained for a “curfew violation”, however, students are not subject to campus curfews which end at 6:00 a.m. The students were detained at 6:01 a.m. Later, a UCPD spokesman stated, while being questioned by journalists from behind yellow tape, that the students were being detained for a violation of 148, subsection A of the penal code or delaying an investigation. He then said that they might be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, which would be a felony. Eventually, they were charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, a misdemeanor charge. 

According to William Gude on Twitter, he was the only person who was threatened with being charged with a felony. Gude and Sean Beckner-Carmitchel, who was wearing the LAPD press pass when he was arrested, were released without charges. 

All of the arrestees’ phones were confiscated. Gude stated on social media, that when the police realized “their error”, they apologized and returned his and Beckner-Carmichael’s phones, and had the journalists’ phones driven up from Westwood, where the phones of the students were being held. The last of the students were released at 9:58 p.m. Gude also said that he understood that the students’ cell phones are being held by the police as evidence until the culmination of their cases. 

The UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment released a statement, and here it is in full:

MONDAY, MAY 6: STUDENTS, LEGAL OBSERVERS, AND PRESS HARASSED AND UNLAWFULLY DETAINED AT UCLA.

Context: Less than 24 hours ago, and effective immediately, the Chancellor moved oversight of policy enforcement and the Office of Emergency Management from the Office of the Administrative Vice Chancellor to a newly created Office — an Office which masquerades as campus safety but whose leader solely reports to Gene Block. In other words, UCLA increased police presence and enlisted countless Sheriff deputies, all of whom report to the same man that left us to die and gave impunity to the perpetrators when our lives were threatened. 

What: This morning at approximately 6 AM, over 45 students and other members of the UCLA community were arrested and detained by members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department. Students, as well as lawyers and members of the press, were handcuffed, put in zip ties, and forced to the ground for over four hours. A student was arrested simply for filming on the way to the gym — one of many unlawfully arrested. There are multiple instances captured on live streams in which the police tossed a person’s phone or filming device to the side, or forcefully grabbed it to interrupt them from recording. 

Those who were detained repeatedly asked if they were under arrest or free to go, but police officers refused to answer them. A vague mention of “curfew” by one of the officers was listed as one of the reasons behind the detainments earlier on in the incident — although importantly, curfew regulations do not apply to UCLA students. Police officers refused to give their names and badge numbers, with some even covering their badges. Campus and local media were further barred from entry. All of the aforementioned events were caught on a variety of student and press livestreams. 

When they were arrested, students were not currently protesting. These unlawful arrests constitute harassment and abuse of power by law enforcement and serve solely as an intimidation tactic. The deliberate targeting of legal observers and members of the press demonstrates UCLA’s blatant disregard for basic democratic safeguards guaranteeing the ability to dissent. 

The UCLA community demands the immediate release of everyone detained this morning, and for the dropping of all charges, both the trumped-up charges fabricated this morning and the unlawful charges from May 1st. These demands are interlaced with our integral five demands: disclosure and divestment, as well as full abidance by the BDS stipulations with an emphasis on academic and research programs. These demands are most relevant today apropos the end to the policing on our campus, the targeting of pro-Palestine advocates, and an end to the administration’s silence on and complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people. Our demands have been made clear to the university on repeated occasions, despite both the UCLA administration’s refusal to consider them and their efforts to censor and intimidate the student body. 

We call on the UCLA community and the public to monitor and oppose the increasingly repressive fascist tactics being deployed by our administration, the UC Regents, and the Biden Administration. 

No one is free until Palestine is free. 

More dedicated than ever, 
The UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment

in News
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