UCLA Gaza Protest Group Says LAPD, CHP ‘Brutalized Students’ in ‘Orchestrated Effort’ During Encampment Eviction

209 people were arrested early Thursday morning when officers cleared out the camp

Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

According to a group representing Gaza war protesters at UCLA, the arrests of more than 200 people early Thursday during the eviction of the school’s pro-Palestine student encampment was an “orchestrated effort” by LAPD and CHP officers to inflict harm, and not a response to any real safety concerns.

In a statement obtained by TheWrap, the UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment organization accused Los Angeles Police Department and California Highway Patrol of committing multiple acts of brutality over a span of 12 hours. They “shot students with rubber bullets and threw flashbang grenades to disarm and paralyze them” and “brutalized students and community allies,” the group said, and also “specifically” targeted students who were wearing keffiyehs.

However, the group asserted, the bulk of this brutality wasn’t documented by the press because officers “performed in full composure” wherever media was present.

The group also denounced UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and accused him and the school of allowing the right wing mob that attacked protesters unprovoked late Tuesday night — referred to in the statement as “zionist aggressors” and “an uncaring tyrannical extension of the zionist project” — to gather “directly across from our encampment for days.”

“The only thing keeping us safe is each other,” the statement said.

The statement continued along similar lines: Disputing that UCLA cares about student safety, it concluded with a call for other students and faculty “to reflect” on the events, and a vow to continue the protests. The statement can be read in full at the bottom of the page.

LAPD representatives declined to comment on the accusations and directed TheWrap’s reporter to UCLA media relations. Representatives for UCLA and for the California Highway Patrol, which was also on hand during the eviction, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from thewrap.

The events Thursday morning capped a tumultuous 24 hours beginning with the aforementioned Tuesday night attack by people using fireworks, pipes and tear gas against the encampment. Block later said that violence was perpetrated largely by people from outside the UCLA student community. LAPD and the university were heavily criticized for taking more than 3 hours to quell the attack, with students even accusing LAPD of standing by and doing nothing as it raged on. UCLA’s campus was closed on Wednesday afternoon and authorities declared the encampment to be an “unlawful assembly” soon after.

Across town, USC announced on Thursday that the Marshall Business School commencement ceremony will take place at the Coliseum instead of Alumni Park, where protesters have been encamped for at least a week, indicating that for now it will not follow UCLA’s lead and evict protesters by force.

The statement from the UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment reads in full:

“Today is day 207 of Israel’s genocidal campaign against Gaza, and 76 years into the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

“Talk to us about safety. Last night, law enforcement assaulted the UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment. Over the span of 12 hours, police brutalized students and community allies, broke down the encampment barricades, and targeted the most vulnerable inside, resulting in over 200 arrests. Safety.”

“In an orchestrated effort, CHP and LAPD shot students with rubber bullets and threw flashbang grenades to disarm and paralyze them, while zionists attacked students with pepper spray and bear mace outside and within the encampment. Police arrested hundreds, beating them back with batons before dragging them to the ground for detainment. Officers were fully equipped with riot gear against weaponless students who created a human chain to defend our encampment from sanctioned abuse by the university. And yet, they dare speak to us on
safety.”

“Police specifically targeted students wearing keffiyehs, who often wore them as masks when we could not find the proper protective equipment. While they performed in full composure under clear media surveillance, the police committed the brunt of their brutalities where press was not present. They tore students from our human chain and shot rubber bullets at close range, doing this in the corners of the Royce and Haines Hall barricade away from media coverage. Many were rushed to the ER after the bullets connected with heads and hands.”

“Tell us: is this safety? Time and time again this university has emphasized that all its actions were guided by one ideal– safety. Who was unsafe last night? Who was unsafe the night before? We, the students, have been the targets of despicable attacks employed by an uncaring tyrannical extension of the zionist project. Gene Block mentions that the encampment had become a “focal point for serious violence”. Violence from who? Perhaps the zionist aggressors whom the school allowed to remain directly across from our encampment for days?”

“By refusing to protect its students against chemical weapons and fireworks– literal acts of terrorism– and by deploying the LAPD to brutally tear down the student encampment, UCLA is deliberately crushing a nonviolent movement calling for divestment from genocide. Safety seems to have a new meaning to the oppressive and repressive administration. To the UCLA administration, ‘safety’ has nothing to do with its students or with the 38,000+ Palestinian lives lost in Gaza over the last 200 days. The only ‘safety’ our university cares about is that of its investments in a system that profits from genocide. Our administration dares to speak to this community about safety and yet the only thing keeping us safe is each other.”

“Sumud, or صمود, is the Palestinian concept of collective resilience and steadfastness. The Palestinian Solidarity Encampment remains strong in their sumud. To students, faculty, and community members: reflect on these days in the community of the encampment. Structures of violence should not be utilized by UCLA– a supposed free speech advocate– to suppress our demands. We would relive this week again and again if it means the liberation of Palestine and we remain committed to our just cause- as should you all. We will not stop, we will not rest.”

“In solidarity,

The repressed, oppressed, and forever-resolved UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment.”

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