Campus Erupts in Violence as Counter-Protesters Invade

( – Pro-Palestine protesters at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) set up encampments as demonstrators have done at other schools. The school left them alone, unlike other institutions. The administrators made it clear the protesters would be left alone as long as they remained peaceful — that didn’t happen.

Violence Erupts

On May 1, UCLA canceled classes for the day. The school also pushed the midterms back. They were forced to take action after counterprotesters clashed with the demonstrators the night before.

According to reports, masked counterprotesters started marching toward the encampment. Meghna Nair, a student at the university, told The Guardian that she knew what was going to happen when she saw them. “I had an idea what they planned to do. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

When the counterprotesters made it over to the encampment, violence erupted. They ripped down metal barriers that were blocking the area off, and people from both groups began fighting. Video of the incident showed masked individuals beating others with metal poles and sticks. It wasn’t clear which group were the aggressors.

Chemicals were sprayed into the air, and people were severely beaten. According to reports, many of the participants didn’t go to the university. Marie Salem, one of the pro-Palestine protesters, said the counterprotesters fired fireworks into the encampment and sprayed them with bear spray and mace.

The day after the protests, school officials ordered the demonstrators to leave the encampment or said they would face arrest.

UCLA and Police Criticized for Response

The violence went on for hours without any intervention. Law enforcement officers were at the scene but allowed the fighting to continue for two hours. UC Divest at LA, the group involved in organizing the encampment, accused the police of standing “at the edge of the lawn” and didn’t move while the pro-Palestine protesters “screamed for their help.”

A spokesperson for Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement calling the “limited and delayed” police response “unacceptable.” The governor posted a message on social media telling protesters that “free speech does not extend to inciting violence, vandalism or lawlessness.”

While the pro-Palestine protesters complained about the police response, Jewish students have repeatedly said they feel unsafe and called the behavior of some of those involved in the encampment antisemitic. Logan Cyr is one of those students, telling The Guardian that he was frustrated the school allowed the demonstrations to continue without intervening for so long.

Cyr said the campus is “so deeply politicized and it’s so divided.”

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