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UCLA Police Chief Reassigned After Assault on Palestine Solidarity Encampment

Acting Chief Named as John Thomas Reassigned to Other Duties on Monday

By Dolores Quintana

In the aftermath of the vicious, hours-long assault on the UCLA student Palestine Solidarity Encampment, in which UCLA students, faculty members, and journalists were assaulted by a rampaging mob of pro-Israeli “counter-protesters”, UCLA’s Chief of Police, John Thomas has been reassigned to different duties. This news came from an emailed statement from Vice Chancellor of Strategic Communications, Mary Osako. The new acting chief of police was named in the statement. 

Oskao’s statement said, “UCLA named Gawin Gibson as Acting Chief of Police, effective Tuesday, May 21. John Thomas has been reassigned temporarily, pending an examination of our security processes. As we said on May 5, UCLA created a new Office of Campus Safety that is leading a thorough examination of our security processes aimed at enhancing the well-being and safety of our community.”

Not one assailant from the night of April 30 and the early morning hours of May 1 has yet been arrested. Even after the LAPD was called in by Mayor Bass around 1:00 a.m., APEX Security and the UCPD did nothing to stop the violence. When the LAPD arrived, the assailants were merely moved out of Royce Quad. None were questioned or detained, despite ample evidence, via live stream news reports, that multiple, brutal assaults and repeated and potentially deadly attacks on the encampment had taken place. 

We reported on the attack earlier this month, as this reporter was on the scene and was also assaulted. CNN published a report that named several assailants. It cannot be denied that the members of the encampment held off the attackers for four hours without any assistance from UCLA or police.

Members of UCLA’s student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, were attacked while trying to leave the area, including Catherine Hamilton, news editor. This assault took place about a hundred feet from the line of UCPD officers. The Daily Bruin reporters were beaten and sprayed with a chemical irritant by several assailants who were hanging around the exit after being told to leave. 

This is the first public step UCLA has taken in the three weeks since the attack, other than Chancellor Gene Block’s move to create a new Office of Campus Safety with Rick Braziel as the new head of this newly created department. Braziel is a former chief of police of the city of Sacramento and a member of the nine-person review committee appointed by the Department of Justice in the investigation into the Uvalde Elementary School Shooting

Wade Stern, President of the Federated University Peace Officers Association (FUPOA), a union that represents the University of California Police Officers refutes the idea that the UCPD was responsible for the lack of response in an emailed statement, “The UCLA administration owns the failure of any protest response, and the public should reject their attempts to shift blame to law enforcement. UC guidelines detailed in the Robinson/Edley Report require a trained senior administrator at UCLA to decide how to respond to protests, guided by an existing plan that had been rehearsed and scenario planned with both UCLA PD and outside law enforcement agencies.

What unfolded at UCLA calls into question whether UCLA complied with the guidelines to have in place senior administrators trained in crowd control response, with written plans for response that were the product of scenario training and consultation with its police department and outside law enforcement agencies. The response to protests appears ad hoc and devoid of the structured planning mandated by the UC system.”

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