NewsUCLA clashes: Pro-Palestinian protesters attacked by Israel supporters

UCLA clashes: Pro-Palestinian protesters attacked by Israel supporters

A demonstration against Israel’s war on Gaza at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) turned violent when a vigilante pro-Israel mob attacked a solidarity encampment occupied by peaceful pro-Palestinian protesters.

Witnesses said the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) only intervened after nearly four hours of the attacks, which started overnight into Wednesday when masked pro-Israel counter-demonstrators, who appeared in their hundreds from outside the university campus, hurled fireworks into the encampment.

Another firework in the camp pic.twitter.com/aJN4HTeHlI

— Mel Buer (@mel_buer) May 1, 2024

The attackers, carrying Israeli flags, then tried to tear down the pro-Palestinian camp, assaulting students with pepper spray, sticks, stones and metal fencing. Police stood by, failing to protect students, who re-commandeered the metal fencing thrown at them to shield themselves, said Joey Scott, an investigative journalist speaking to Al Jazeera from the scene.

Before the police arrived, a group reportedly piled on one person who lay on the ground, kicking and beating them until others pulled them out of the scrum.

Eventually, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement on X early on Wednesday morning that police were responding to requests for support from the UCLA administration. LAPD confirmed their intervention at about 2am (09:00 GMT).

At the request of UCLA, due to multiple acts of violence within the large encampment on their campus, the LAPD is responding to assist UCLA PD, and other law enforcement agencies, to restore order and maintain public safety.

— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) May 1, 2024

“Horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight and we immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support,” Mary Osako, a senior UCLA official, told the campus newspaper the Daily Bruin.

Reporting from Los Angeles, Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds said the student protesters had stood their ground. The number of injured was not yet known, but reports on social media indicated that some people have been led away with injuries, he said, as he described the “really shocking and ugly scene of violence”.

The vigilante mob appeared to come from outside the campus. “They appear to be all largely people who are not of student age and they’re not from the UCLA campus, but what they’re doing is trying to harass and attack the pro-Palestinian demonstrators,” said Reynolds.

Bass called the violence “absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable”.

The antiwar group said that “law enforcement simply stood at the edge of the lawn and refused to budge as we screamed for their help. The only means of protection we had was each other” as the attack went on for more than seven hours.

“The university would rather see us dead than divest,” it added in a statement posted on X.

STATEMENT FROM BESIEGED UCLA PALESTINE SOLIDARITY ENCAMPMENT

The only means of protection we had was each other. WE KEEP US SAFE.

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