Pro-Palestinian protesters clash with cops at UCLA

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Officers arrested 27 people late Monday during the demonstration, Rick Braziel, UCLA associate vice chancellor for campus safety, said in a statement….reports Asian Lite News

Police thwarted attempts by pro-Palestinian demonstrators to set up a new encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles, where officers cleared a previous camp this spring after it was attacked by counterprotesters.

Officers arrested 27 people late Monday during the demonstration, Rick Braziel, UCLA associate vice chancellor for campus safety, said in a statement.

The individuals were cited for willful disruption of university operations and one for interfering with an officer, according to UCLA police. They were issued 14-day orders to stay away from UCLA and then released.

Any student arrested will face disciplinary action, which could include being banned from campus and not being able to take finals or participate in commencement ceremonies, Braziel said.

The demonstrators repeatedly tried to set up tents, canopies and barriers as they moved to various locations, disrupting nearby final exams. The group also damaged a fountain, spray-painted brick walkways, tampered with fire safety equipment, damaged patio furniture, stripped wire from electrical fixtures and vandalized vehicles, police said.

During the demonstration, there were also attacks that led to six UCLA police being injured, as well as a security guard left bleeding from the head after being struck, according to Braziel.

“Simply put, these acts of non-peaceful protest are abhorrent and cannot continue,” Braziel said in the statement.

Protest camps have sprung up on university campuses across the US and in Europe as students demand their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies that support its war efforts. Organizers have sought to amplify calls to end Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which they describe as a genocide against the Palestinians.

UCLA has been repeatedly roiled by protests and the university administration’s handling of the situation.

At one point, a pro-Palestinian encampment was attacked by counterprotesters, with no immediate response from police, and dozens were then arrested as the camp was cleared. The episode led to reassignment of the campus police chief and creation of a new campus safety office. A subsequent attempt to set up a new camp was also blocked.

Monday’s protest comes just days before University of California regents are scheduled to meet at UCLA and this coming weekend’s commencement ceremonies.

Since May, mass protests across several US university campuses over Israel’s war with Gaza have intensified. The stir that was focused at Columbia University has now spread to at least five universities, including Ivy League schools Harvard and Yale.

As many as 34 students were arrested at the University of Texas’s Austin campus last month. Similar scenes unfolded at the University of Southern California as police arrested a Palestinian student organiser, with videos showing cops bringing out their batons to take control of the situation.

At Harvard, pro-Palestinian protesters stormed the campus to set up encampments, days after the university restricted access to the Yard – the oldest campus – to only Harvard ID holders.

UCLA police chief reassigned

The police chief at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been reassigned following criticism over his handling of recent campus demonstrations that included a mob attacking a pro-Palestinian encampment.

Chief John Thomas was temporarily reassigned Tuesday “pending an examination of our security processes,” said Mary Osako, UCLA vice chancellor for strategic communications, in a statement released Wednesday.

The Daily Bruin reported late Tuesday that Thomas said in a text to the campus newspaper, “There’s been a lot going on and, I learned late yesterday that I’m temporarily reassigned from my duties as chief.”

Neither Osako nor Thomas identified his reassigned role.

The reassignment of Thomas follows UCLA’s May 5 announcement of the creation of a new chief safety officer position to oversee campus security operations.

On April 30, counterdemonstrators attacked a pro-Palestinian encampment, throwing traffic cones, releasing pepper spray and tearing down barriers. Fighting continued for several hours before police stepped in, and no one was arrested. At least 15 protesters suffered injuries.

Thomas told the Los Angeles Times in early May that he did “everything I could” to provide security and keep students safe during days of strife that left UCLA shaken.

But his response was roundly criticized and prompted Chancellor Gene Block to order a review of campus security procedures. Block then announced that Rick Braziel, a former Sacramento police chief, would lead a new Office of Campus Safety that will oversee the UCLA Police Department.

“To best protect our community moving forward, urgent changes are needed in how we administer safety operations,” Block said in the May 5 statement.

Sporadic disruptions continued following the dismantling of a pro-Palestinian encampment and some 200 arrests on April 30.

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