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UCLA cancels classes after night of violence between opposing protestors

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(The Center Square) – UCLA canceled Wednesday classes after a night of violence between opposing protestors over the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

Fights between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protestors went on for hours before police arrived, and stood by until eventually separating the two skirmishing groups.

“For over four hours, two opposing groups were allowed to pummel each other with no law enforcement present despite dozens of people beaten, assaulted and maced with pepper spray,” said independent journalist Anthony Cabassa, who documented the confrontation, to The Center Square. “It was complete chaos and many innocent folks were caught in the crossfire.”

Earlier in the day, Cabassa had taken a drone video of pro-Palestine activists training in hand-to-hand combat in advance of expected violence that night. Video of the night of violence shows protestors attacking each other with pepper spray, boards, and fists as security stands nearby, allegedly ordered to stand down by the UCLA administration.

BREAKING🚨: Using a drone I was able to get EXCLUSIVE UCLA Pro Palestine encampment footage. They are TRAINING protestors in hand to hand combat as LAPD expected to tear down the encampment as soon as tonight, and potential fights with police expected.The school has deemed the… pic.twitter.com/SmLSX6cPjG— Anthony Cabassa (@AnthonyCabassa_) May 1, 2024

When one individual was struck by another with a metal baton, violence appeared to simmer down as the injured man was escorted to safety. Other videos showed protestors pulling individuals out of fights when violence escalated. These scenes suggest that while protestors were dedicated to, even physically, demonstrating their feelings on the conflict, that individuals on both sides largely avoided crossing lines that could result in major felony charges.

California Governor Gavin Newsom weighed in on the violence, saying, “The right to free speech does not extend to inciting violence, vandalism or lawlessness on campus. Those who engage in illegal behavior must be held accountable for their actions– including through criminal prosecution, suspension, or expulsion.”

Among the protestors’ demands were UCLA divestment from businesses in Israel, which the UC system said it opposes.

The next day, the California Federation of Teachers called for UCLA Chancellor Gene Bock’s removal for violence against the “peaceful student solidarity encampment” and for allowing police to stand by as counter-protestors “assaulted students.”