Violent clashes break out among opposing protest factions at UCLA; ‘situation got out of control’

Pro-Israel counter-protesters clashed Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning with demonstrators in the pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA, with violence breaking out just hours after UCLA had declared the  “Palestine Solidarity Encampment” unlawful.

As sporadic violence in the quad continued for about two hours, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky posted on social media at 1:13 a.m. “the situation on UCLA’s campus is out of control and is no longer safe.” Soon after that post, Los Angeles Police Department and California Highway Patrol officers arrived to help campus police restore order.

I am at the UCLA quad, where things have been very tense all day after school law enforcement has asked protesters to leave and a large group of counter protesters has thrown fireworks. Both groups are facing off with lots of media & some cops nearby.

— Emily Holshouser (@emilyytayylor) May 1, 2024

Just after 11 p.m. Tuesday, TV helicopter reports showed projectiles were thrown and fireworks were lit, with possible tear gas fired, and some opposing protesters in scuffles. Dozens of people were participating on each side. Some of the combatants were armed with large sticks.

Around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, a group appeared to be trying to dismantle the Palestinian encampment, with some people trying to take down fences, plywood and other barricades at the encampment. At one point, a group of protesters took a metal barricade and ran through the crowd with it.

A person with a stick, right, is seen after counter-protesters attacked the pro-Palestinian encampment early Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at UCLA. (Photo by Emily Holshouser/Southern California News Group) 

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Broadcast reports showed one person was injured and taken away in an ambulance, while through around 1 a.m. there was a minimal police presence and no indication anyone had been arrested. Chants of “USA, USA” and “Free Palestine” rang out as bottles and occasionally pieces of wood were thrown.

The pro-Palestinian protesters had been preparing for such a showdown all day, offering self defense classes Tuesday afternoon and providing those at the front of the crowd with hard hats and shields made out of trash cans.

Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications, provided an emailed statement to the Daily Bruin, the campus newspaper, on the events of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, “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 and it must end.”

Numerous students and others were observing the chaotic scene without participating, many taking cell phone photos and making videos.

Around 12:51 a.m. a spokesperson for the office of Mayor Karen Bass said on social media that LAPD would be “responding immediately to Chancellor (Gene) Block’s request for support on campus.”

By 1:10 a.m., with no police separating the protesters, anti-Palestinian combatants continued to try to attack the pro-Palestinian encampment, hurling liquid and objects including a wooden pallet into the encampment fence line. Several pieces of plywood seized from the encampment by counter-protesters were dragged a block away and placed into a pile.

Around 1:14 a.m., three CHP vehicles were seen arriving on scene along with some campus police vehicles. By around 1:30 a.m., Los Angeles police had also arrived and officers seemed to be gearing up to enter the fracas. By around 1:40 a.m., CHP and LAPD officer in riot gear were moving into the demonstration area. More than two dozen officers set up a skirmish line.

Around 2:45 a.m., officers moved in to engage with the demonstrators to get them to disperse, telling them to leave or be arrested, ABC7 reported. By around 3:50 a.m., the pro-Israel demonstrators had left the quad at the direction and encouragement of police, the station reported.

Everyone has a right to free speech and protest, but the situation on UCLA’s campus is out of control and is no longer safe. I’m grateful to LAPD and Mayor Bass for stepping in to ensure the safety of everyone on campus.

— Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky (@CD5LosAngeles) May 1, 2024

The violence unfolding this evening at UCLA is absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable.

LAPD has arrived on campus.

— Mayor Karen Bass (@MayorOfLA) May 1, 2024

#LIVE Protesters at UCLA are carrying barricades and pushing them into opposing groups: police are still not on scene

— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) May 1, 2024

#LIVE Heavy police presence established on the perimeter at UCLA, but not yet moving in among protesters as clashes continue

— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) May 1, 2024



Gov. Gavin Newsom posted on social media his office is closely monitoring the situation at UCLA.

“Law enforcement leaders are in contact this evening and resources are being mobilized,” Newson posted.

City News Service contributed to this story.


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