Police issue unlawful assembly order at pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA

Police arrive to UCLA in force as hundreds of protesters remain in encampment

Police at UCLA on Wednesday afternoon ordered people to clear out of the pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA after a night of violence went unchecked for hours.

Police issued an unlawful assembly order over loudspeakers at about 6 p.m. and ordered demonstrators to leave the area.

Law enforcement began moving in early Thursday and there were conflicting reports about what unfolded next.

The university had issued a warning to the demonstrators on Tuesday.

"The established encampment is unlawful and violates university policy," the university wrote. "Law enforcement is prepared to arrest individuals in accordance with applicable law. Non-UCLA persons are notified to leave the encampment and depart the campus immediately."

A mixture of the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol and UC Police Department established a heavy presence outside of the encampment all of Wednesday. 

Despite the order, thousands of people stayed at the encampment and along the steps leading up to it.

The number of people at the encampment grew despite police issuing a dispersal order at around 6 p.m. KCAL News

Hundreds of officers with less-than-lethal weapons started to form skirmish lines throughout the night while more staged their cruisers and buses at a nearby parking lot at the West LA Federal Building. They did not immediately move into the encampment after the first declaration.

Law enforcement amassed a force consisting of dozens of officers from multiple agencies. KCAL News

The LAPD said the entire agency will be under a citywide tactical alert because of the situation at UCLA. The bulletin places the department at a heightened level of alert to free up resources.

The police stood in a buffer zone between the encampment and the other protesters in the five hours after the declaration. For the most part, the situation remained calmer than Tuesday night.

What happened during the clashes on Tuesday night?

The unabated clashes between pro-Palestinian protesters and counter-protesters lasted for approximately two hours between 11 p.m. Tuesday night and 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. 

In that two-hour span of mayhem, counter-protesters launched smoke bombs, fireworks and cones at the encampment as demonstrators tried to protect themselves with a makeshift wooden barricade and umbrellas. Counter-protesters also attacked people with sticks.

One of the fireworks landed next to tents in the encampment. KCAL News

At least one person was injured during the initial clashes.

Law enforcement appeared to drive away after paramedics treated the victim. The bedlam ceased when officers showed up and separated the two sides at roughly 1:30 a.m.

People from the camp said 100 people were hurt when the mob attacked.

The violence prompted UCLA to cancel classes on Wednesday.

"This is a dark chapter in our campus's history. We will restore a safe learning environment at UCLA," Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement Wednesday. 

How long has the encampment been at UCLA?

It's been a week since protesters built a tent city at UCLA, but on Tuesday night, university leaders declared the camp unlawful, ordering everyone to leave or face arrest.

The administration also asked students, staff and faculty to leave. 

"Those who choose to remain — including both students and employees — could face sanctions," the university wrote. "For students, those sanctions could include disciplinary measures such as interim suspension that, after proper due process through the student conduct process, could lead to dismissal."

The protesters released a statement claiming they will not leave.

"We will not leave. We will remain here until our demands are met. You justify the mistreatment of students in the encampment in the same way you justify your complicity in the Palestinian genocide," the protesters wrote in a statement. 

They also called on students and "other members" of the community to join their movement. 

"Administration wants you to believe that this movement is futile," they wrote. "While the administration publicly condemns us, they privately negotiate with us because the collective power of unified students threatens them."

The demands include divestment from Israel.

UC President Michael Drake expressed his support for UCLA's decision while also saying that he respects the matters of free expression.

"But when that expression blocks the ability of students to learn or to express their own viewpoints, when it meaningfully disrupts the functioning of the University, or when it threatens the safety of students, or anyone else, we must act," he wrote.

Earlier on Tuesday, protesters and Jewish students clashed after the encampment blocked the way to the library in the middle of midterms. 

"It doesn't make any sense to me that students on our campus can simply intimidate you by standing there putting their arms out and block you," sophomore Declan Foley said. "I don't have passionate feelings about this situation at all. I just want to get to class."

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