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Protester detained by UCPD atop Powell scaffolding, classes affected by encampment

Pro-Palestine encampment participants block visibility of a student protester detained in Powell Library after climbing the building’s scaffolding. (Constanza Montemayor/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Constanza Montemayor

April 30, 2024 2:41 p.m.

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

Police detained a student protester inside Powell Library for an hour Tuesday morning. Royce Hall was closed to students, and some classes across campus were moved online shortly after.

Earlier in the morning, at around 9:29 a.m., a man attempted to enter the outermost barrier of the encampment set up by pro-Palestinian protestors in Dickson Plaza, appearing to shove his body into campus security personnel and wedge himself in between the guardrails. He was denied access and asked to leave by security, but he continued to try and force his way into the encampment before giving up minutes later and threatening to fight a campus security officer.

Around 10:20 a.m., a student protester climbed to the top of Powell Library’s northern scaffolding to erect a large Palestinian flag. Around 10:22 a.m., the student protester was initially detained by UCPD at the top of the structure, and a construction worker removed the flag at 10:30 a.m.

The protester – who remains unidentified – was held at the top of the scaffolding for about 15 minutes before being marched down to the ground level of the library at 10:35 a.m., appearing to be restrained by UCPD as students chanted, “Let him go.”

Around 80 student protesters from the encampment rushed the police as UCPD reached the ground with the detainee, blocking their exit from the front steps of Powell Library. UCPD proceeded to bring the student inside Powell Library, where they detained them beginning around 10:46 a.m. Protesters continued to chant for their release and surrounded Powell Library’s available northern, eastern and southern exits, which were guarded by campus security.

Campus security blocks the back entrance to Powell Library as they wait for the student protester to be released from the building. (Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin senior staff)

A student organizer for the UC Divest Coalition at UCLA said although the situation ended without anyone being harmed, the incident involved poor communication from UCPD. The organizer said the student detainee had a medical incident during their detainment and was denied access to medical care by UCPD, creating a safety issue. Following their release, the student was treated by encampment medics, they added.

At 11:36 a.m., police told student protesters they could walk the detained student back to the encampment, and UCPD released the detainee at 11:45 a.m. from the main southern exit of Powell Library. The student was escorted by other student protesters back to the encampment, shielded from view by students holding keffiyehs as they walked back around the side of the building.

Police declined a request for comment at the scene.

As the students returned to the encampment, nearby students attempted to enter the encampment zone, demanding to be let into Powell Library. They were denied access by campus security and encampment participants.

Around 1 p.m., Royce Hall was closed to students and the public, and campus status was moved to “modified operations.”

At 11:45 a.m., vice chancellor for strategic communications Mary Osako released a statement that said the university was taking action to increase its security presence by adding additional campus law enforcement and student affairs and safety personnel.

Following reports of a student being blocked from reaching class Monday, the university has initiated its student conduct process and brought in law enforcement to investigate, Osako added in the statement.

“This kind of disruption to our teaching and learning mission is abhorrent, plain and simple,” Osako said in the statement. “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.”

A UCPD officer detaining the protester next to the flag at the top of the scaffolding is pictured. (Constanza Montemayor/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Many professors moved classes online following the incident, particularly classes held in buildings around Dickson Plaza. The Department of Economics additionally recommended that its instructors move classes online.

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Constanza Montemayor | News senior staff
Montemayor is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. She was previously the 2022-2023 News editor, the 2021-2022 features and student life editor, a News reporter, Photo contributor for the news beat and Arts contributor. She is also a fourth-year global studies student at UCLA.
Montemayor is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. She was previously the 2022-2023 News editor, the 2021-2022 features and student life editor, a News reporter, Photo contributor for the news beat and Arts contributor. She is also a fourth-year global studies student at UCLA.
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