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Palestine solidarity encampment at UCLA braces for police sweep

Pro-Palestine protesters are pictured sitting around Janss Steps. As the Palestine solidarity encampment braced for a sweep of the area by police, thousands of protesters came to express support for the encampment. (Zimo Li/Daily Bruin)

By Catherine Hamilton

May 1, 2024 9:48 p.m.

This post was updated May 3 at 1:03 a.m.

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

The Palestine solidarity encampment braced for a sweep of the area as UCLA administration limited campus operations following counter-protesters’ incitement of violence in Dickson Plaza on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, the university released a statement saying that the pro-Palestine encampment was unlawful, and UCLA-affiliated participants may face disciplinary actions such as suspension and expulsion. Around 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, protesters inside the encampment were issued a dispersal order. 

From late Tuesday night to early Wednesday morning, counter-protesters of the encampment attempted to seize its barricades and force entry as they launched fireworks, metal barriers and tear gas toward the encampment. 

At 2 p.m. Wednesday, Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UCLA held a press conference by the flagpole in Portola Plaza. This was followed by a press conference held by the encampment at 3 p.m. and talks from pro-Palestine community leaders at the base of Janss Steps. According to the UC Divest Coalition at UCLA, 25 pro-Palestine protesters were hospitalized overnight to address injuries sustained during the aggression against the encampment. 

In a BruinAlert sent Wednesday morning, the university announced that it had canceled classes for the day “due to the distress caused by the violence that took place on Royce Quad.” Another BruinAlert sent Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. alerted the campus that operations would be limited Thursday and Friday, with all in-person classes required to move online per Academic Senate guidance on instruction. 

Various buildings on campus, including Ackerman Union, Drake Stadium, Kerckhoff Hall, the John Wooden Center and the Student Activities Center, operated with modified hours Wednesday. 

Police cars converged in Wilson Plaza on Wednesday, and then later began moving out of the plaza at around 8:00 p.m. Around the same time as the police car movement from Wilson Plaza, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA posted on Instagram calling for community members to join the encampment in preparation for the sweep. 

“Once again our encampment of community, of solidarity, of people who only sought to dissociate themselves from the Israeli genocide of Palestinians is ready to stand firm against an institution who would see us destroyed,” read the statement, which was signed from “the twice besieged and never defeated Palestinian Solidarity Encampment.”

Graeme Blair, an associate professor of political science and member of FJP, expressed disappointment at UCLA’s response to the attacks on the encampment Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

“I’m disgusted that after the university failed to protect students simply standing up for causes they believe from an anti-Palestinian mob that tonight they have chosen to endanger students once again by calling in the police,” Blair said. “Any harm on students tonight is on them.”

Police vehicles in Wilson Plaza are pictured. Police teams have been mobilizing across campus, with reports of officers from UCPD, LAPD, Santa Monica Police Department and the California Highway Patrol. (Zimo Li/Daily Bruin)

Since Wednesday afternoon, thousands of pro-Palestine protesters had gathered on the lawn of Janss Steps, listening to speeches and shouting chants such as “When Palestine is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

At 6:45 p.m., CSC security officers claiming to be operating on police orders removed Daily Bruin reporters from Haines Hall. This was despite the fact that, on Tuesday, The Bruin was granted 24-hour access to the building by Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications, but reporters were unable to enter the building that night. Around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, four Bruin reporters were physically assaulted outside Kaplan Hall while trying to leave the area around Dickson Plaza.

When more LAPD officers walked past Portola Plaza around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the crowd of hundreds outside Dickson Plaza created a human chain around the fence in front of the flagpole. Around the same time, encampment participants attempted to push a counter-protester down Janss Steps. 

Prison buses and more police vehicles in response to the dispersal order issued to the encampment were seen near the Wilshire Federal Building at 7:30 p.m.

At approximately 8 p.m., more than 50 officers positioned to form stronger lines of reinforcement on the front lawn of Dickson Plaza, in the space between the barricade and hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters behind a fence at the front of the plaza, who were chanting phrases such as “Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power!” and “UCPD, KKK, IDF, you’re all the same.” 

According to multiple accounts on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, snipers were present atop the roof of Royce Hall. An anonymous student inside the encampment said in an interview with the Daily Bruin that a police officer in tactical gear was on the roof of Royce Hall. 

A parking garage near Murphy Hall was filled with California Highway Patrol cars. Officers were loading a type of gun with green canisters. Some police vehicles were also driving around campus without their lights on. 

Around 9 p.m., hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters previously sitting around Janss Steps marched around Powell Library toward Dickson Plaza to join those standing there. A handful of pro-Israel voices were counter-protesting in the same area. 

As police and protesters prepared for confrontation, a gaseous, smoke-like substance emanated from the corner of Royce Hall. Three Santa Monica police vehicles were parked by the UCLA School of Law near highway patrol cars, and a sheriff bus was seen near Melnitz Hall. 

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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.
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