United States

UCLA Begins Cleanup After Violent Clashes Between Police, Protesters

Author: Editors Desk, Alicia A. Caldwell, Alyssa Lukpat , Ginger Adams Otis, and Corinne Abrams Source: WSJ:
May 2, 2024 at 15:32

Officers detain hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Police arrested more than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of California, Los Angeles after issuing a dispersal order on campus and dismantling an encampment. Photo: Etienne Laurent/AFP/Getty Images


LOS ANGELES—Cleanup crews were removing tents, wood and other debris Thursday morning from the main lawn at the University of California, Los Angeles, hours after police forcibly removed a pro-Palestinian encampment in one of the most violent episodes since college demonstrations began last month.

At around 2:40 a.m. local time Thursday, police faced off against demonstrators behind plywood barriers and using makeshift shields and umbrellas. It couldn’t be determined how many of the protesters were affiliated with UCLA.

Local TV footage showed police officers tying protesters’ hands behind their backs and leading them away onto buses. Hundreds of people were detained, California Highway Patrol Officer Alec Pereyda told a local ABC affiliate.


Police detained a protester on the UCLA campus as the pro-Palestinian encampment was being cleared Thursday. PHOTO: DAVID SWANSON/REUTERS
Police detained a protester on the UCLA campus as the pro-Palestinian encampment was being cleared Thursday. PHOTO: DAVID SWANSON/REUTERS

At least 2,000 people have been arrested at pro-Palestinian protests on U.S. college campuses since April 18, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

President Biden, in his first extended remarks on the college protests, on Thursday stressed some limits to the right to free speech and condemned hate speech and violence.

“I understand people have strong feelings and deep convictions,” he said at the White House. “In America, we respect the right and protect the right for them to express that. But it doesn’t mean anything goes. It needs to be done without violence, without destruction, without hating and within the law.” At another point he said: “There’s the right to protest, but not the right to cause chaos.”

The protests hadn’t changed his views on the conflict in Gaza, said Biden, who doesn’t support calling in the National Guard to deal with the campus protests.

The clash at UCLA was the climax of a chaotic week at the school, which also included a violent standoff between pro-Israel counterprotesters and people in the encampment that was broken up by police in the early hours of Wednesday. 

By midmorning Thursday, remaining signs of the campus conflicts included a Palestinian flag spray painted on a dumpster and a pair of signs that read “Hamas, free the hostages.” 

A pair of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detention buses were parked just outside the former encampment area. Nearby, protesters chanted “The whole world is watching!”

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has described the encampment as unauthorized, and said the university would conduct an investigation into the events of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning “that may lead to arrests, expulsions and dismissals.”

The university, which canceled classes on Wednesday, said classes would be remote on Thursday and Friday.


Hundreds of people were detained Thursday morning on UCLA’s campus, law enforcement told a local ABC affiliate. PHOTO: MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS
Hundreds of people were detained Thursday morning on UCLA’s campus, law enforcement told a local ABC affiliate. PHOTO: MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

In Portland, Ore., police cleared protesters from the library at Portland State University Thursday morning. Protesters entered the Branford Price Millar Library earlier in the week and refused to leave, police said. After several days of attempted negotiations, PSU closed the campus and issued a warning that anyone remaining in the library could face criminal trespass charges. 

Portland Police Bureau officers made their way inside early Thursday, where they found a number of barricades, mostly furniture piled up, as well as caches of tools, ball bearings, paint balloons, spray bottles of ink, and homemade armor, police said.


Twelve people were arrested, four of them PSU students, in and around the library, according to authorities.


Police were met by a wall of protesters at UCLA early Thursday. PHOTO: ETIENNE LAURENT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Police were met by a wall of protesters at UCLA early Thursday. PHOTO: ETIENNE LAURENT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES


Hundreds of protesters have been arrested on several campuses in the U.S. over recent days, as universities and police look to end the demonstrations that criticize Israel’s conduct in the war in Gaza. Protesters have called for universities to divest themselves of investments in companies doing business with Israel. University leaders have tried to tame the protests without disrupting speech rights.

Police moved on Wednesday to quell protests at several schools. Around 90 protesters at Dartmouth College were arrested. The University of Arizona said four people, including two not affiliated with the school, were arrested. Tulane University in New Orleans said 14 protesters were arrested. The University of Wisconsin-Madison said 34 people were detained. New York City police said they arrested hundreds of protesters this week at Columbia University, City College of New York and Fordham University.

Some universities and officials have blamed outsiders for coming to schools to escalate the protests. New York City Mayor Eric Adams told NPR Thursday morning that more than 40% of the protesters at Columbia and City College weren’t affiliated with the schools, according to preliminary analysis. A city official said the mayor was referring to those arrested this week.


Pro-Palestinian demonstrators are detained on the UCLA campus Thursday. PHOTO: JAE C. HONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators are detained on the UCLA campus Thursday. PHOTO: JAE C. HONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tarini Parti, Talal Ansari and Jim Carlton contributed to this article.

Write to Alicia A. Caldwell at alicia.caldwell@wsj.com, Alyssa Lukpat at alyssa.lukpat@wsj.com, Ginger Adams Otis at Ginger.AdamsOtis@wsj.com and Corinne Abrams at corinne.abrams@wsj.com

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