Police face off with protesters after new UCLA encampment pops up

Editor’s note: This report has been updated to clarify an encampment was removed at UCLA.

Members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) clashed with protesters on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus after a second pro-Palestinian encampment popped up.

Videos and photos shared online showed groups of protesters forming a line to block members of the LAPD. Police were wearing helmets, had batons and pushed back protesters with the sticks and their hands.

According to ABC 7 reporter Josh Haskell, UCLA police entered the encampment after breaking a lock holding barriers together. LAPD handled crowd control, he said.

A small group of protesters set up a few tents in an outdoor space on campus Thursday morning and grew to several hundred protesters by the afternoon. Police, dressed in riot gear, pushed back the crowd and tore down the encampment, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It’s not known if any arrests were made or if injuries have been reported, but a graduate student told the Times that it’s a “very fraught, violent environment.”

The academic workers union announced Thursday that its ongoing strike over working conditions would be expanding onto the UCLA and University of California, Davis campuses. Union members say their free speech rights were violated when UC system leaders had police forcibly remove pro-Palestine encampments, including at UCLA, the outlet reported.

The clash follows a similar incident in late April. Counterprotesters attempted to breach barriers erected by the university to separate pro-Israel protesters and pro-Palestine protesters, resulting in physical altercations.

Police dismantled the encampment on Apr. 30, and there were some 200 arrests, The Associated Press reported.

The university released a statement denouncing the April incident, saying it was “heartbroken” that violence broke out since the school has a “long history” of being a place where people can peacefully protest.

A UCLA police chief was also temporarily reassigned after the violent interaction. The school said John Thomas had been reassigned temporarily as the university examines its security processes.

UCLA is one of many schools across the country holding pro-Palestine protests denouncing the United States’s role in the Israel-Hamas war and calling on their schools to divest from Israeli companies or companies that provide weapons to Israel.

Updated on May 24 at 1:38 p.m. EDT

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