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UCLA acknowledges ‘violence’ on campus as Israel-Hamas War protests escalate

LawUCLA acknowledges 'violence' on campus as Israel-Hamas War protests escalate

UCLA administration addressed “violence” on campus on Sunday morning as pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters clashed amid growing tensions as the Israel-Hamas War continues.

In a statement, Mary Osako, vice chancellor of UCLA Strategic Communications, confirmed that altercations occurred on campus Sunday morning.

“This morning, a group of demonstrators breached a barrier that the university had established separating two groups of protestors on our campus, resulting in physical altercations,” Osako said. “UCLA has a long history of being a place of peaceful protest, and we are heartbroken about the violence that broke out.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 25: Pro-Palestinian students gather to protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza at University of California (UCLA) in Los Angeles, California, United States on April 25, 2024. (Photo by Grace Hie Yoon/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Law enforcement officials barricaded areas near the encampment early Sunday in anticipation of an organized counter-protest by a pro-Israeli group. Flyers advertising the counter-protest said the demonstration would be peaceful.

As of Sunday afternoon, there was no indication on how the “physical altercations” were started, or which groups were involved.

Social media posts from UCLA’s campus after 11 a.m. showed skirmishes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters, though they appeared to be isolated and between small amounts of people.

One protester’s livestream showed people wrapped in flags, carrying signs and speaking into megaphones around 1:30 p.m. as many protesters began to lock arms and form a wall.

A Palestinian flag is displayed outside a tent at an encampment on the UCLA campus Friday, April 26, 2024, in Los Angeles. As the death toll mounts in the war in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis worsens, protesters at universities across the country are demanding schools cut financial ties to Israel and divest from companies they say are enabling the conflict. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Logan Hall of Spectrum News 1 reported that officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were on campus in riot gear around 2:30 p.m.

According to the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student-run newspaper, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups chanted at each other after the counter-protest began.

The Daily Bruin also said at 1:41 p.m. that one of its reporters overheard Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck discussing the “potential disbursement” of the counter-protesters and the encampment.

The counter-protest, according to reporting by KTLA’s Rachel Menitoff, was organized by the non-profit group the Israeli-American Council, who wrote on social media that encampments like the one at UCLA are “overtly antisemitic.”

The nonprofit added that it’s “utterly unacceptable that any university campus become a platform for pro-terror and anti-American activities.”

In the meantime, leaders of the encampment say have no plans to leave and are demanding that the UC system divest from companies that do business with Israel and for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Earlier this week, the University of California rejected calls to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

Many of those in the encampment said that they felt that the counter-protest was provocative.

“The Zionist side is very violent, but the other people are camping, sleeping, just protesting peacefully, ” one Palestinian demonstrator at UCLA told Menitoff. “That’s what I see, they have been attacking us, have been pushing us and we are trying to keep our cool and control ourselves, not respond because the goal they use is to provoke us.”

A pro-Israel demonstrator, Stephanie Praw, told KTLA that she hopes a dialogue can be reached and that the loss of life on both sides is heartbreaking, but added that she feels there are some issues that are not being addressed.

“The 133 [Israeli] hostages are not being spoken up for in a loud enough way,” she said.

According to reporting by the Daily Bruin, no arrests were made as of 3 p.m. and that just a half hour later, all that remained in Dickson Plaza was the encampment and several bystanders.

“The stage and screen featured in the Israeli American Council counter-protest is being dismantled and loaded onto a truck in Portola Plaza,” the outlet said on X.

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