At University of California, Los Angeles, Repressive Violence Continues After Encampment Clearing

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has emerged as a key site of repressive violence amidst the recent protests across American universities in support of Palestine.

Early Monday morning, approximately 40 students, legal observers, and members of the press were arbitrarily arrested in a parking garage on UCLA’s campus. The UCLA chapter of the national organization, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), released a statement regarding the arrests, saying that those arrested were not even protesting at the time and that the arrests “constitute harassment and abuse of power by law enforcement, and serve solely as an intimidation tactic.”

Police reportedly detained the individuals because they refused to give their names or say if they were UCLA students. In SJP’s statement, they describe the fascist nature of the arrests, claiming that a student was arrested simply for filming the scene while they were on their way to the gym. At the time of the arrests, a sit-in for Palestine was being held in a nearby university building.

Last week, UCLA students who organized a Palestine solidarity encampment were attacked by Zionist thugs who launched fireworks at them, beat them with sticks, and pepper sprayed them. Despite students immediately calling for help, police did not arrive to the scene for four hours and once they arrived, they stood there and watched for an hour before intervening.

The next day, police dressed in riot gear violently cleared the peaceful student encampment, arresting approximately 200 protesters, including 10 faculty members. In a public relations event held the day after, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, made a statement devoid of reality, stating “It [the sweep] left us with very strong feelings. The fact that the encampment represents not only a risk to the students inside the encampment, because it’s very hard to protect their security unless you have a very large number of police continually guarding the encampment.”

On May 5th, Block announced he was expanding the crackdown on campus protests by creating a new office called the “Office of Campus Safety.” SJP reacted to this announcement in their statement, writing:

“Less than 24 hours ago, and effective immediately, the Chancellor moved oversight of policy enforcement and the Office of Emergency Management from the Office of the Administrative Vice Chancellor to a newly created Office — an Office which masquerades as campus safety but whose leader solely reports to Gene Block. In other words, UCLA increased police presence and enlisted countless Sheriff deputies, all of whom report to the same man that left us to die and gave impunity to the perpetrators when our lives were threatened.”

Despite UCLA’s suppression of free speech, students are not backing down. In fact, UCLA students have remarked that the violence they’ve experienced has only strengthened their resolve in fighting for a free Palestine. As such, arrogant university administrators from UCLA to Columbia have invertedly fueled the student solidarity movement. In trying to crush dissent, the universities have exposed themselves and the interests they serve as their actions stand in stark contrast to the flowery and empty language regarding the supposed “freedom of thought and expression” on campus. And so, with every arrest and encampment sweep, the powers that be water the seeds of rebellion and resistance.



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