Police enter UCLA encampment, detain some protesters

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Police entered an encampment of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the University of California, Los Angeles early Thursday, after protestors ignored law enforcement’s orders to leave the area.

Officers removed barriers and began dismantling the encampment of tents after hours of threatening arrests by way of loudspeakers if there was not a dispersal of people, The Associated Press reported. The move also came after counterprotestors attacked an area of the camp, per the news wire.

Multiple protestors were detained in the aftermath, some restrained with zip ties, per the AP. The arrests were also reported by UCLA’s student newspaper, The Daily Bruin.

Violence had previously erupted at the southern California school and on Columbia University’s campus in New York City. The New York and Los Angeles police departments have since cracked down on the demonstrations after weeks of unrest sparked by aversions to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and the subsequent humanitarian crisis.

UCLA was moved to cancel classes Wednesday due to the tension.

Police tore apart the barricade of UCLA’s encampment, made of plywood, pallets, metal fences and trash dumpsters, and created an opening in the way of demonstrators’ tents, The AP reported. Protestors held umbrellas in a way similar to shields and faced down officers.

The news comes as multiple universities this week have sent in law enforcement to arrest hundreds of protesters as administrators declare their demonstrations illegal, while at least two schools have been able to reach deals with activists to peacefully close down their encampments.

“We are frustrated by media distractions focusing on inflammatory individuals who do not represent us,” Columbia protest leaders said in a statement last month. “Our members have been misidentified by a politically motivated mob.” 

“We firmly reject any form of hate or bigotry and stand vigilant against non-students attempting to disrupt the solidarity being forged among students,” they continued. “Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, Jewish, Black and pro-Palestinian classmates and colleagues who represent the full diversity of our country.”

Many of those protesting have also faced accusations of antisemitism. House Republicans, in particular, have in recent months made combating antisemitism — especially on college campuses — a pivotal part of their messaging.

The lower chamber of Congress approved a bill Wednesday, introduced by Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), that would crack down on rising antisemitism on campuses across the nation. If passed, the legislation would require the Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism when enforcing antidiscrimination laws.

The Hill has reached out to UCLA and the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Associated Press contributed.

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