Mobilization in support of Gaza | Police dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment at University of California

(Los Angeles) Police on Thursday began dismantling an encampment erected at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) by students protesting against the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, as they had done the day before on several other campuses in the United States, where arrests took place.

Before daybreak, the police, in riot gear, positioned themselves in front of the students carrying umbrellas or white helmets and forming a line, clinging to each other’s arms, according to a journalist from the AFP on site.

The demonstrators, one by one, were then arrested and handcuffed. At the same time, the police methodically dismantle the wooden pallets and plywood panels from a barricade surrounding the camp and dismantle the tents.


UCLA, May 2, 2024

Clashes broke out during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday on this campus when counter-protesters, many masked, attacked this pro-Palestinian encampment.

The attackers had tried to break through an improvised barricade around the camp. Demonstrators and counter-protesters then clashed with sticks and threw projectiles at each other.


UCLA, May 1, 2024

Graeme Blair, professor of political science at UCLA, regrets Thursday a “so unnecessary” crisis.

“The university and the authorities had the opportunity to de-escalate. They sent the police very late against the extremists last night (the counter-protesters having attacked the pro-Palestinian student camp, editor’s note) and now they are attacking the students participating in a peaceful demonstration”; he confided to AFP.

UCLA President Gene D. Block had warned before the violence against the presence of people from outside the campus. The incidents “have caused, especially among our Jewish students, deep anxiety and fear,” he added.

On Sunday, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists, supported by numerous demonstrators arriving from outside, came to blows, with shoving and insults.

Dismantled camps

At the University of Texas at Dallas, police intervened Wednesday to evacuate a protest camp and, according to the institution, arrested at least 17 people for “criminal trespass.”

Law enforcement officers arrested several people at Fordham University in New York the same day and dismantled a camp set up that morning on campus, officials said.

Also on Wednesday, around 300 people were arrested in New York at two university sites, according to police.

During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the police had already dislodged by force the pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded in a building of the prestigious Columbia University in Manhattan, the epicenter of the student mobilization in support of Gaza.

The police “arrested people at random (…), several students were injured to the point that they had to be hospitalized,” denounced a coalition of student groups supporting the Palestinians of Columbia in an Instagram post.

“I regret that we have reached this point,” reacted Minouche Shafik, the president of the university, on Wednesday.

The demonstrators are fighting “for an important cause”, but the recent “acts of destruction” carried out by “students and external activists” led her to resort to the police, she explained , also denouncing “anti-Semitic remarks” made during these gatherings.

Other camps were also dismantled on Wednesday at the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively in the southwest and the north of the United States, according to local media.

Biden “should speak out”

For two weeks, actions in support of Gaza have multiplied across the American territory, from California to major universities in the northeast, reminiscent of demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

The students call on establishments to cut ties with patrons or companies linked to Israel and denounce Washington’s support for its Israeli ally.

Unlike other institutions, Brown University in the state of Rhode Island announced that it had reached an agreement with the demonstrators. This provides for the dismantling of their encampment in exchange for a university vote in October on a possible “divestment” from “companies that enable and profit from the genocide in Gaza”.

Images of riot police intervening on campuses have gone around the world and are causing strong reactions in the political world, six months before the presidential election in a polarized country.

The White House on Wednesday condemned a “small percentage of students who cause disorder.”

During a meeting Wednesday in Wisconsin, former President Donald Trump said that “New York was under siege last night.” President Joe Biden “should speak out,” he said.


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