Videos: Police crackdown on UCLA student encampment protesting Israel war on Gaza

AFP , Ahram Online , Thursday 2 May 2024

Hundreds of police cleared a sprawling protest encampment early Thursday at the University of California, Los Angeles, tearing down barriers and arresting students in the latest crackdown on US campuses over Israel's war on Gaza.

Police enter a pro-Palestinian encampment after a dispersal order was given at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus, on May 2, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. AFP


Officers in riot gear ripped down a wooden barricade around the UCLA protest site and dragged tents away in a new round of police crackdown against student protesters.

UCLA students clad in white helmets linked arms and formed a line facing off against officers, who were detaining pro-Palestinian protesters and leading them away.

Police used flashbangs and tear gas to disperse the crowds gathered outside the encampment who chanted "Let them go!" as helicopters hovered overhead.



Officers blocked stairs accessing the site, with students dressed in yellow jackets and serving as medics telling AFP they were being largely prevented from reaching the area.

In another part of the encampment, police assaulted university students in a graphic display of police brutality, that has become standard practice against pro-Palestinian demonstrations.



"This is a peaceful protest, there are no counter-protesters tonight, so to call the police on them is despicable. This city should support them," LA resident Jack Bedrosian, who came along to show support, told AFP.

The crackdown, carried out by LAPD and California Highway Patrol officers, came one night after law enforcement were notably absent when a large number of counter-protesters arrived on campus late Tuesday and attacked pro-Palestinian students.

UCLA said classes would be remote on Thursday and Friday due to the "emergency on campus," and warned students to avoid the protest area.

Videos circulated on social media showed fireworks being shot by counter-protesters at the UCLA encampment of pro-Palestinian students:




Another video showed police firing rubber bullets at pro-Palestinian protesters:



Wave of unrest

Demonstrators have gathered on at least 30 US university campuses since last month, often erecting tent camps to protest against Israel's war on Gaza that has killed at least 34,500 people, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Officers also detained several people at Fordham University in New York and cleared a protest set up inside a school building, officials said.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, protesters dug in, blocking an avenue near the center of the campus in Cambridge during the height of Wednesday afternoon's rush hour commute.

The University of Texas at Dallas saw police remove an encampment and arrest at least 17 people for "criminal trespass," the school said.

Police said about 300 arrests were made at Columbia and another New York university.

New York Mayor Eric Adams blamed "outside agitators" for ratcheting up tensions. Columbia students have denied outsiders were involved.

Protests against Israel's war on Gaza, with its high Palestinian civilian death toll, have posed a challenge to university administrators across the United States, Israel's number-one ally. Institutions that have historically prided themselves as bastions of free speech are revealing that such liberties often halt when it comes to criticizing Israel.

Footage of police in riot gear summoned at various colleges to break up rallies has been viewed around the world, recalling the protest movement that erupted during the Vietnam War.

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