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Violence on UCLA campus over war in Gaza forces cancellation of classes

May 1

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Officials canceled classes at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), on Wednesday, May 1, after violent clashes between opposing groups of protesters erupted overnight. The confrontation began when pro-Israel protesters allegedly attempted to take apart barricades around a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus.

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The escalation followed the university declaring the camps illegal on Tuesday night. UCLA also warned pro-Palestinian protesters of consequences if they refused to leave.

According to UCLA student Edgar Gomez, the situation quickly got worse as people tore down gates, threw water bottles and engaged in fighting. Protesters allegedly shoved, kicked and beat each other with sticks. Additionally, individuals reportedly used pepper spray during the fight.

Just before 1 a.m. local time, Mary Osako, the vice chancellor for UCLA’s Strategic Communications, issued a statement.

“Horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight and we immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support,” Osako said. “The fire department and medical personnel are on the scene. We are sickened by this senseless violence.”

Police did not gain control of the situation until more than two hours after Osako released the statement, raising questions about the campus’s preparedness for such unrest.

“Things are not going well,” Gomez said. “People are, like, angry at each other. Lots of tensions are going on. I just hope things can get resolved and maybe with some negotiations going on or who knows what will happen. But I hope things get resolved right away.”

Wednesday morning, the scene returned to calm, but classes remained suspended. As a result, UCLA officials advised people to avoid the impacted area.

Meanwhile, in New York City, police broke up a demonstration at Columbia University. They entered a building filled with antiwar protesters and dispersed the crowd. The university requested police assistance after physical violence erupted.

These incidents came amid a broader movement on college campuses across the country as students protest Israel’s war in Gaza. Tent encampments calling for universities to sever ties with Israel or companies supporting Israel’s war in Gaza sprung up across the U.S.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

AFTER CHAOS ORDER IS RESTORED, FOR NOW, ON U-C-L-A’S CAMPUS.

BUT THE SCHOOL STILL CANCELED CLASSES WEDNESDAY IN THE WAKE OF VIOLENT CLASHES OVERNIGHT BETWEEN GROUPS OF PROTESTERS.

THE FIGHTS BEGAN WHEN PRO-ISRAEL COUNTER-PROTESTERS ALLEGEDLY ATTEMPTED TO DISMANTLE BARRICADES AROUND A PRO-PALESTINIAN ENCAMPMENT ON CAMPUS. THE CONFRONTATION CAME AFTER THE ENCAMPMENTS WERE DECLARED ILLEGAL TUESDAY NIGHT. U-C-L-A WARNED PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS THEY FACED CONSEQUENCES IF THEY REFUSED TO LEAVE.

[EDGAR GOMEZ]

“SO, BASICALLY, THERE WAS A WHOLE BUNCH OF GROUP OF GUYS THAT ARE AGAINST THIS ENCAMPMENT, AND THEY STARTED LIKE TEARING DOWN WOOD ONE-BY-ONE, GATES ONE-BY-ONE, STARTED THROWING WATER BOTTLES. AND UMBRELLAS.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

THE SITUATION ESCALATED QUICKLY, WITH PEOPLE SHOVING, KICKING AND BEATING EACH OTHER WITH STICKS, SOME EVEN USING PEPPER SPRAY.

[EDGAR GOMEZ]

‘IT’S ONE OF THE CRAZIEST THINGS IN MY LIFE. I’LL SAY THAT. LIKE I NEVER SEEN THIS HAPPEN BEFORE. I NEVER SEEN PEOPLE, LIKE, GET SO HEATED AT THIS MOMENT. AND, IT WAS REALLY BAD, I’LL TELL YOU THAT.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

JUST BEFORE 1 A-M LOCAL TIME, MARY OSAKO, THE VICE CHANCELLOR FOR U-C-L-A’S STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS ISSUED A STATEMENT:

SAYING: “HORRIFIC ACTS OF VIOLENCE OCCURRED AT THE ENCAMPMENT TONIGHT AND WE IMMEDIATELY CALLED LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR MUTUAL AID SUPPORT. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AND MEDICAL PERSONNEL ARE ON THE SCENE. WE ARE SICKENED BY THIS SENSELESS VIOLENCE.”

MORE THAN TWO HOURS AFTER HER STATEMENT POLICE FINALLY HAD THE SITUATION UNDER CONTROL.

SPARKING QUESTIONS OVER WHETHER THE CAMPUS WAS PREPARED FOR THE UNREST. 

[EDGAR GOMEZ]

“THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL, YOU KNOW. PEOPLE ARE, LIKE, ANGRY AT EACH OTHER. LOTS OF TENSIONS ARE GOING ON. I JUST HOPE THINGS CAN GET RESOLVED AND MAYBE WITH SOME, NEGOTIATIONS IS GOING ON OR WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN. BUT I HOPE THINGS GET RESOLVED RIGHT AWAY.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

AS DAWN BROKE, THE SCENE RETURNED TO CALM.

BUT CLASSES DID NOT RESUME AS NORMAL, AS U-C-L-A OFFICIALS ADVISED PEOPLE TO STEER CLEAR OF THE IMPACTED AREA.

MEANWHILE, IN NEW YORK CITY, POLICE DISBANDED A DEMONSTRATION AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY. OFFICERS ENTERED A BUILDING FILLED WITH ANTI-WAR PROTESTERS, DISPERSING THE CROWD. THE UNIVERSITY REQUESTED HELP FROM POLICE AFTER PHYSICAL VIOLENCE BROKE OUT.

THESE INCIDENTS COME AMID A BROADER MOVEMENT ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES NATIONWIDE. 

WITH STUDENTS PROTESTING ISRAEL’S WAR IN GAZA. TENT ENCAMPMENTS CALLING FOR UNIVERSITIES TO SEVER TIES WITH ISRAEL OR COMPANIES SUPPORTING ISRAEL HAVE SPRUNG UP ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

LAUREN TAYLOR– STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS.