UCLA anti-Israel protests: Violence erupts as delayed police response sparks criticism

Police arrest over 130 in raid of pro-Palestinian encampment

Counter protesters clash with pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) on May 1, 2024.
Counter protesters clash with pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) on May 1, 2024. | Etienne Laurent/AFP via Getty Images

Police dressed in riot gear broke up a violent brawl at the University of California Los Angeles between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protesters that reportedly went on for around three hours before the authorities intervened, drawing criticism from state leaders. 

The clash between the two sides appears to have occurred sometime after a group of anti-Israel demonstrators allegedly beat a Jewish woman until she was unconscious. 

The violence occurred near an anti-Israel encampment, which activists at college campuses throughout the country have organized to demand their schools divest from Israel and express "solidarity" with the people of Gaza amid the ongoing war with the terror group Hamas. 

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A group of counter-protesters approached the encampment around 11 p.m. Tuesday, at which point, fireworks were reportedly thrown into the encampment, ABC 7 reports.

During the clash between the opposing demonstrations, people were beaten with sticks, and the Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately intervene until around 1:30 a.m., according to the report, which noted officers didn't disperse the crowd until around 3 a.m. 

On Thursday, police raided the encampment, arrested over 130 people and took them to a complex downtown for booking, a spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol Southern Division told The Associated Press

A spokesperson for Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, told ABC 7 that the "limited and delayed campus law enforcement response at UCLA last night was unacceptable — and it demands answers."

Mayor Karen Bass called for a full investigation. 

"Those involved in launching fireworks at other people, spraying chemicals and physically assaulting others will be found, arrested, and prosecuted, as well as anyone involved in any form of violence or lawlessness," Bass wrote on X Wednesday. 

"I want to make sure the message I delivered to law enforcement and other officials earlier today is clear: Free speech will be protected. Violence and bigotry will not."

Before the authorities' intervention, a video surfaced Tuesday that purportedly showed a group of anti-Israel protesters assaulting a Jewish woman and stomping on her Israeli flag.

Eliana Jolkovsky, a UCLA medical student, shared the video under her "@ThatKoreanJew" account on Instagram. 

According to a video caption, and as seen in the footage, the woman's body was "limp" as several people carried her away from the crowd. The text explains that the woman was later taken to the emergency room, and a screenshot included in the video shows a giant scar on the back of the woman's head.

"She has a concussion and was unable to recognize her family when she woke up," Jolkovsky wrote in response to a comment on Instagram. "But she is stable now."

Jolkovsky's video and claims couldn't be immediately verified by The Christian Post. UCLA did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment about the police intervention or to an inquiry about the video shared on social media. 

In a Wednesday X post, UCLA announced the cancellation of classes due to the "distress" from the previous night and early morning that occurred on the Royce Quad. The school also instructed students to avoid the Royce Quad area.

On Tuesday, the university's administration warned the demonstrators that their encampment "is unlawful and violates university policy," threatening students who did not comply with the instruction to leave that they would face arrest or expulsion. 

California District 51 Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur, a Democrat, was critical of authorities' delayed response to the developments at UCLA. 

"Yesterday, my staff witnessed the violent assault of a Jewish student on campus, just one of many antisemitic incidents that have occurred in the last week and in recent months," he wrote on X Wednesday. "Hours later, a violent mob attacked protestors at the encampment with fireworks, pepper spray, and blunt objects, reportedly injuring students and reporters. In both instances, University security failed to prevent the assaults or respond in a timely manner, despite Chancellor Block’s assurances of adequate security on campus."

"While we continue to gather all the facts, one thing is abundantly clear: the UCLA Administration has failed in their most important duty — to protect the safety, wellbeing, and civil rights of all students on campus.”

Reports have also surfaced of anti-Israel demonstrators at UCLA blocking students from accessing their classes and the library.

In an audio recording shared this week on social media and by the Jewish News Syndicate, a mother is heard asking the university police if protestors are permitted to block students who pay tuition from accessing the library. 

"No, they're not allowed, but unfortunately, they have kind of taken over that little area. ... The police are not intervening with that right now, and this is coming from the university," the police representative told the mother. 

Another video shows a group of demonstrators demanding people show the right wristband to enter certain areas on campus, with the protestors refusing entry to "Zionists." 

The news about the anti-Israel protests comes after the New York Police Department arrested demonstrators at Columbia University.

According to USA Today, the police arrested around 300 anti-Israel protesters after the university called on them to help. 

Protesters at Columbia University had taken over Hamilton Hall on campus. Several demonstrators broke windows, while others used furniture to barricade themselves inside. 

"Columbia has a long and proud tradition of protest and activism on many important issues such as the Vietnam War, civil rights, and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa," Columbia University President Minouche Shafik said in a Wednesday statement

"Today's protesters are also fighting for an important cause, for the rights of Palestinians and against the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza. They have many supporters in our community and have a right to express their views and engage in peaceful protest."

"But students and outside activists breaking Hamilton Hall doors, mistreating our Public Safety officers and maintenance staff, and damaging property are acts of destruction, not political speech," she concluded.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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