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Violence erupts at UCLA as pro-Palestinian protesters, counter-protesters clash

Chaos on the UCLA campus as protestors break down the walls of pro-Palestine encampment
Chaos on the UCLA campus as protestors break down the walls of pro-Palestine encampment 06:40

After UCLA declared a pro-Palestinian demonstrators' encampment unlawful, a clash between dozens of protesters and counter-protesters led to one person being driven away in an ambulance. The victim's injuries were unclear.

Law enforcement appeared to drive away after paramedics treated the victim. The Los Angeles Police Department said the University of California Police Department (UCPD) was handling the situation. UCPD said all available officers were dealing with the incident. 

"The Mayor has spoken to Chancellor Block and Chief Choi. LAPD is responding immediately to Chancellor Block's request for support on campus," Mayor Karen Bass' office said in a statement.

However, the hostilities between the two sides were seemingly unimpeded by police. 

"Horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight, and we immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support," Vice Chancellor Mary Osako said in a statement. "The fire department and medical personnel are on the scene. We are sickened by this senseless violence and it must end." 

Mayor Bass later said on X that, "The violence unfolding this evening at UCLA is absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable. LAPD has arrived on campus."

Gov. Gavin Newsom's office issued a statement saying, "Our office is closely monitoring the situation at @UCLA. Law enforcement leaders are in contact this evening and resources are being mobilized."

Counter-protesters toss firework into pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA. KCAL News

Protesters continued to fight each other well past 11:30 p.m., throwing fireworks at the encampments while melees broke out past the barriers. One of the melees involved a person swinging what appeared to be a skateboard.

Counter-protesters also tossed traffic cones, a scooter, wooden pallets and what appears to be smoke bombs at people along the barrier to the encampment. 

Pieces of the makeshift barrier appeared to be broken apart, and some protesters carried a metal fence to separate themselves from the counter-protesters. 

Protesters seemed to push the metal fence surrounding the encampment further out into the quad to create a buffer between the two groups. 

However, people started to pull the metal barriers from the encampment, dragging them away from the area while others tried to rip a makeshift wooden fence apart. Another group of people started to fight each other along the wooden barrier as items flew over them.

A person from the encampment said they were pepper-sprayed amid the mayhem.

As of 1 a.m., no officers were seen at the encampment.

But, according to The Associated Press, police wearing helmets and face shields formed lines and slowly separated the groups after a couple of hours, and that appeared to quell the violence.

What led up to the clash?

It's been almost 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 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."

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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