Home World U.S. News UCLA Protests: Police Clash with Protesters as Officers Clear Pro-Palestinian Encampment

UCLA Protests: Police Clash with Protesters as Officers Clear Pro-Palestinian Encampment


President Joe Biden has urged pro-Palestinian protesters on university campuses to uphold the rule of law.

“We are a civil society, and order must prevail,” President Biden said from the White House, in his first direct remarks about a wave of student unrest.

Police have detained more than 2,000 people nationwide in the past fortnight at college rallies and protest camps.

That includes 209 arrests in the past day at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Hundreds of officers in riot gear moved on to UCLA’s main campus before dawn on May 2 and cleared its pro-Palestinian encampment.

They set off flash bangs and flares, loaded demonstrators on to police buses, and tore down the makeshift barriers and tents that had been erected on campus a week ago.

In a statement, UCLA called the encampment “both unlawful and a breach of policy. It led to unsafe conditions on our campus and it damaged our ability to carry out our mission.”

“Demonstrators directly interfered with instruction by blocking students’ pathways to classrooms,” it added, while their clashes with pro-Israeli counter-demonstrators “put too many [students] in harm’s way”.

Image source: UCLA

Addressing the nationwide protests hours later, President Biden said: “We are not an authoritarian nation where we silence people or squash dissent… But neither are we a lawless country.”

“There’s the right to protest but not the right to cause chaos. People have the right to get an education, the right to get a degree, the right to walk across the campus safely without fear of being attacked.”

The Uncommitted National Movement, a group of Arab-American voters opposed to President Biden’s re-election campaign this year, accused him of “smearing” anti-war protesters.

“It’s clear Biden isn’t listening to young people nationwide, or to the over half a million uncommitted voters asking him to change course. We hope he hears us before it’s too late,” leader Abbas Alawieh said.

The campus protests in support of Gaza have now spread to nearly 140 colleges in at least 45 states, and at least six other countries.

Demonstrators, who have long pushed for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war, are demanding academic institutions financially divest from Israel and companies who stand to make money from the conflict.

But many colleges have called in the police, with violence erupting on some campuses, as well as rising reports of antisemitic harassment against Jewish students.

The tensions at UCLA’s main Westwood campus erupted on April 30 when a masked pro-Israeli group breached the tent camp on Dickson Plaza and attacked campers with bats, tear gas and other items.