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Police dismantle UCLA protestor encampment amid mass arrests

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Police cleared the encampment of pro-Palestine protestors at UCLA before dawn on Thursday, May 2, arresting hundreds for failing to disperse after the school declared the encampment an unlawful assembly.

Protestors held on to hastily erected barricades against the police, who tore away at their defenses item by item until officers could break through. California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Police Department officers deployed riot shields, tear gas, flares, and rubber bullets against the determined crowd.

As police broke through the outer barricades, protestors fell back to more defenses, where the cycle repeated yet again. By sunrise, the encampment was fully under police control.

“Harassment, vandalism and violence have no place at UCLA or anywhere in our city,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass in a statement. “My office will continue to coordinate closely with local and state law enforcement, area universities and community leaders to keep campuses safe and peaceful.”

The night before the encampment clearout, violent skirmishes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protestors went on for hours before police arrived.

UCLA BREAKING 🚨 : CHP RIOT POLICE HAVE BROKEN THROUGH, POLICE HAVE BREACHED THE ENCAMPMENT. PEOPLE BEING DETAINED. pic.twitter.com/uxcAOReRp5— Anthony Cabassa (@AnthonyCabassa_) May 2, 2024

UCLA moved classes online on Wednesday for the rest of the week amid the unrest. Police remain in high alert and ready for action at college campuses across the country. On April 30, police cleared out hundreds from Hamilton Hall at Columbia College, including many non-students who had joined in the occupation.

California Republican legislators argued that administrators at the colleges are to blame for the violence and unrest, and urged for cuts to administration budgets at college campuses that have “grown exponentially over the last ten years.”

“It’s the administration that needs to take the cut because we’ve got a whole lot of people at these universities who are drawing six figure salaries and they stood by and did nothing as this all happened – they did not act, they did not protect students,” said California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, at a news conference.

As California faces a $73 billion budget deficit, legislators are scrambling to protect funding for some programs by finding cuts for others. During the Great Recession, half of the state’s budget cuts were from education, largely at the state college level.

At the national level, the House of Representatives passed a new anti-semitism law to the Senate. Because the law would “falsely equate criticism of Israel with antisemitic discrimination” on college campuses and federal law “already prohibits antisemitic discrimination and harassment by federally funded entities,” the American Civil Liberties Union warned the bill would chill free speech and uses an “overbroad definition of antisemitism that encompasses protected political speech.”