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Violence, Chaos Erupts at University Protest Encampments in Los Angeles

Elgin Nelson

After UCLA Chancellor Gene Block deemed a pro-Palestinian protest encampment on his campus to be “unlawful,” chaos and violence erupted as a confrontation escalated rapidly as pro-Israel supporters clashed with the pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Although the university had declared the encampment an illegal site, there was a noticeable delay in police presence to disperse what was originally described as a ‘peaceful’ protest as counter-protests began to engage with the encampment site.

Tensions on college campuses have mounted across the country in the wake of pro-Palestinian encampments attracting massive police presence and angry counter-protestors. 

“We are deeply disturbed by this pointless violence; it must stop,” declared a UCLA spokesperson. Following these events, classes at UCLA were suspended on Wednesday.

The Director of the California Working Families Party, Jane Kim, also issued the following statement: “Last night, UCLA and the city of Los Angeles unequivocally failed in their duty to protect their students exercising their First Amendment right. Students engaging in a Free Palestine Solidarity Encampment were brutally assaulted— the UCLA administration and leadership must denounce this abhorrent act of violence and outline decisive measures to ensure the safety of students engaging in peaceful protest.

Kim added, “throughout history, students and young people in California have been at the forefront of transformative protest movements—fearlessly challenging entrenched power structures and amplifying the voice of our collective conscience. Even when our leaders have faltered, our students have stood firm, driving positive change.

Gov. Newsom’s office is closely monitoring the situation at UCLA, while Mayor Bass condemned the violence as “absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable”.

Additionally, antisemitic symbols were discovered at the University of Southern California (USC) this week, as their encampment protests have led to an investigation by school authorities.

The Los Angeles Police Department reported that 93 individuals were arrested following night during a protest on campus, on charges including trespassing and assault with a deadly weapon.

“I condemn any antisemitic symbols or other forms of hate speech as deplorable,” USC President Carol Folt said in a social media post. “Clearly it was drawn there right now just to incite even more anger at a time that is so painful for our community.”

USC also announced the cancellation of its main graduation ceremony. Mayor Bass addressed those who likely missed their high school graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“Well, as you know, they didn’t cancel everything. So, the main graduation is canceled but the individual schools have graduations as well. So, there’s a lot of ceremonies that will be taking place, but they [students] missed their graduation four years ago, but hopefully their individual schools will go forward peacefully,” Bass said.

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