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Block indicates potential consequences for protesters, condemns campus aggression

Tents in the ongoing pro-Palestine encampment sit in front of Royce Hall on Tuesday afternoon. Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement that barriers put up by encampment protesters in front of various buildings have been taken down.
(Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

By Catherine Hamilton and Dylan Winward

April 30, 2024 5:52 p.m.

For the Daily Bruin’s full coverage of the UC Divest Coalition and Students for Justice in Palestine encampment, see here.

Chancellor Gene Block released a statement Tuesday saying the university has increased its security presence around the pro-Palestine encampment in Dickson Plaza, has requested law enforcement investigations into allegations of violence and has begun the student conduct process that may result in disciplinary action.

The statement, sent in a campuswide email at 5:04 p.m., declared the recent pro-Palestine encampment outside Royce Hall to be unauthorized. It follows a statement distributed around the encampment requiring participants to leave the area or potentially face disciplinary action, such as suspension or expulsion. 

The university has not previously called the encampment unlawful or unauthorized. It previously provided a permit for counter-protesters to set up a large screen and speakers in Dickson Plaza outside Kaplan Hall on Sunday. Although UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said the permit did not extend into Monday, there were no plans to remove it as of 11:52 a.m. on Monday, and it remains in place as of 5:25 p.m. on Tuesday. 

The statement added that barricades set up by protesters of the encampment have been removed and will not be allowed up again. Block said the university has initiated the student conduct process to investigate those who prevented other students from accessing parts of campus. 

Block acknowledged that many protesters and counter-protesters have been peaceful, but he said other actions have been “shocking and shameful.”

“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,” Block said in the statement. “These incidents have put many on our campus, especially our Jewish students, in a state of anxiety and fear.”

UC Divest Coalition at UCLA said in a written press release that it believes violence on campus was caused primarily by counter-protesters supporting Israel, some of whom the protesters allege threatened them with weapons. They added that they believe the administration has failed to protect students on campus.

“Throughout these agitations we have kept each other safe while administration and campus security have done nothing but stand idly by,” UC Divest said in the statement.

University administrators had been summoned earlier Tuesday to testify before a congressional committee regarding antisemitism on campus and protests related to the war on Gaza. 

[Related: Republican lawmakers condemn campus antisemitism, demand UCLA’s Congress testimony]

Graeme Blair, an associate professor of political science and member of Faculty for Justice in Palestine, said he has seen religious solidarity in the time that he has been inside the encampment. 

“Every day that I’ve been at the encampment, what I’ve seen is an extraordinary show of solidarity between Jewish students, Muslim students, students from Palestine and students from around the world who are concerned about how the United States and Israel are treating Palestinians,” he said.  “I haven’t seen any anti-semitism.”

Blair also said he was disappointed that universities across the country were using language typically associated with criminal justice to rhetorically approach student protests. 

Blair plans on remaining within the encampment even if the police start arresting demonstrators, he said, adding that he believes it is his responsibility as a member of tenured faculty at the university to support student expression on campus.

“Faculty and staff have been in the encampment since it began, and we strongly urge the administration to reverse course and not criminalize the behavior of students who are exercising their rights to express dissent on campus,” Blair said.

UC Divest also said in its press release that it plans to remain in the encampment in spite of notice of disciplinary action from the campus administration. It added that it has been engaged in private negotiations with UCLA about meeting its demands.

“We will not leave,” UC Divest said in the press release. “We will remain here until our demands are met.”

Blair also called upon the university to negotiate with protesters on campus about their demands, which include divestment from companies associated with the Israeli military and cutting ties with LAPD. Northwestern University had previously negotiated a deal with organizers of a pro-Palestine encampment on their campus, according to BBC.

“I shared my views, and others have shared their views with the administration, that we think that the encampment should be allowed to stay and that the university should bargain in good faith with the protesters,” Blair said.

In a BruinPost alert sent Tuesday at 4:26 p.m., the university announced Royce Hall will be closed through Friday, and instructors will inform students regarding moved classes. Powell Library will also close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and will reopen Monday.

At the end of the statement, Block encouraged campus community members to report instances of discrimination to UCLA’s Civil Rights Office and to call UCPD if they feel in danger. 

“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 wellbeing of our peers and maintain an environment safe for learning,” Block said at the end of the statement. “This is a commitment I call on our community to uphold as we navigate the weeks ahead.”

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Catherine Hamilton
Hamilton was the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor.
Hamilton was the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor.
Dylan Winward | News editor
Winward is the 2024-2025 News editor and an Arts, Copy, Photo, PRIME and Sports contributor. He was previously the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. Winward is a third-year English and statistics student from London in the United Kingdom.
Winward is the 2024-2025 News editor and an Arts, Copy, Photo, PRIME and Sports contributor. He was previously the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. Winward is a third-year English and statistics student from London in the United Kingdom.
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