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New UCLA protest draws hundreds of demonstrators and 4 police departments

Pro-Palestinian activists rekindled protests on campus and briefly built a new encampment, then occupied buildings.

Pro Palestinian protesters stand off with police during a rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)
Pro Palestinian protesters stand off with police during a rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)
Clara HarterAuthor
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  • Pro Palestinian protesters occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of...

    Pro Palestinian protesters occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Police face off with pro Palestinian protesters on the campus...

    Police face off with pro Palestinian protesters on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters are pushed back by police on the...

    Pro Palestinian protesters are pushed back by police on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters climb a wall to enter Kerckhoff Hall...

    Pro Palestinian protesters climb a wall to enter Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters are pushed back by police and security...

    Pro Palestinian protesters are pushed back by police and security personnel on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters are pushed back by police on the...

    Pro Palestinian protesters are pushed back by police on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of...

    Pro Palestinian protesters occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters stand off with police during a rally...

    Pro Palestinian protesters stand off with police during a rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian jump a wall to leave Kerckhoff Hall after...

    Pro Palestinian jump a wall to leave Kerckhoff Hall after police declared an unlawful assembly on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters jump over a wall after occupying Kerckhoff...

    Pro Palestinian protesters jump over a wall after occupying Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters stand off with police during a rally...

    Pro Palestinian protesters stand off with police during a rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Police monitor pro Palestinian protesters on the campus of UCLA...

    Police monitor pro Palestinian protesters on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Police monitor pro Palestinian protesters during a rally on the...

    Police monitor pro Palestinian protesters during a rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • A security office pushes pro Palestinian protesters back on the...

    A security office pushes pro Palestinian protesters back on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters climb a wall to occupy Kerckhoff Hall...

    Pro Palestinian protesters climb a wall to occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA...

    Pro Palestinian occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of...

    Pro Palestinian protesters occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of...

    Pro Palestinian protesters occupy Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protester covers their face at Kerckhoff Hall on...

    Pro Palestinian protester covers their face at Kerckhoff Hall on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in...

    Pro Palestinian protesters rally on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳/SCNG)

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On the day UCLA Chancellor Gene Block testified before Congress about efforts to combat antisemitism on campus, pro-Palestinian activists rekindled protests on campus and briefly built a new encampment on Thursday, May 23.

Protesters used tables, metal fences, plywood and other materials to block off a section of campus between Kerckhoff and Moore halls, a main walkway used by students traversing the Westwood campus. By afternoon, the demonstrators had occupied Dodd Hall, with dozens of protestors inside and hundreds more outside, and marched through the campus.

The protesters in the encampment dispersed around 1:15 p.m. after police declared an unlawful assembly and threatened arrests. Some protesters returned to Dodd Hall later in the day, and other protests were visible on campus, but it was unclear if the demonstrations would endure.

At 4 p.m., more than a hundred students occupied Dodd Hall, with some preparing to leave once the police arrived and others planning to stay for the long haul.  Some tied ropes to the doors of the  south Dodd Hall entrance shut to try to keep counter protesters out. Demonstrators covered the windows at the first floor access points and announced to people inside that anyone wishing to do so should leave.

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But by 5:30 p.m., police had returned and demonstrators left the hall, organizers said.

Kenza, a student media liaison for the protest movement who did not use her last name as a safety policy, said she wasn’t worried about how swiftly the encampment was shut down. “This was just a test to see if students were just as mobilized as they were a couple of weeks ago, because the university and administration likes to believe that their oppression is working,” she said.

“It just didn’t make sense to have our entire group of people be shot at with rubber bullets and hit by police batons,” she said. “We live to fight another day.”

Kenza said she was impressed that hundreds of protesters joined the second encampment, after facing violence when pro-Israel agitators attacked the first encampment and police later raided it. “A lot of that can cause a movement to be stifled, people can get scared and intimated,” she said. The decision to abandon Thursday’s encampment was made in the interest of the protest movement, she said.

“This was a good action already,” Theresa Solomon said of the rebuilt encampment at the Kerckhoff Hall patio. “We know we’re doing the right thing by continuing to support an end to this injustice.”

Political science professor Michael Chwe said he was disappointed by the university’s swift decision to call in the police.

“Police is never the best way to handle a situation, the events of April 30 and May 1st should have taught us that,” he said, referring to the counter-protesters attack on the initial encampment and subsequent police raid. “People have the right to peacefully protest, they should not be confronted by lots and lots of police first thing.”

At about 3 p.m., counter-protesters made their way to Dodd Hall’s entrance where they shouted at protesters occupying the building.

Through the morning, protesters chanted “Free Palestine” and knocked on doors around the school, staying on the move perhaps to not allow law enforcement agencies a chance to set up. Waves of police in riot gear, however, rolled in soon thereafter.

At about 1 p.m., police made their way into the barricaded encampment area, and the plaza appeared to have been largely vacated. The group that was gathered outside the encampment then backed away from police and began marching en masse across the campus.

After leaving the encampment zone on Kerkchoff Patio they briefly rallied by Murphy Hall, chanting “we’ll be back, we’ll be back.”

At about 1:20 p.m., hundreds of demonstrators marched from the first encampment to Murphy Hall, where they shut down part of Charles E. Young Drive.

Earlier, organizers held a rally on the steps of Murphy Hall, but police made their way onto the scene, winding in between the protesters and the structure. Outside the hall, protesters stood chanting slogans and blocking Charles E. Young Drive.

That followed a situation at about 12:45 p.m. when the Culver City Police Department, along with campus and private security, formed a wall around a new encampment, separating it from supporters demonstrating in front of the Kreckhoff Hall building patio.

As police approached, most of the students inside trickled out, climbing over the tables and umbrellas used as makeshift barricades. The crowd booed the police as the organizers on the roof of the building pulled up a large “Palestinian Solidarity Encampment” banner.

Students and faculty protest at UCLA on Thursday, May 23. Photo: Clara Harter, SCNG
Students and faculty protest at UCLA on Thursday, May 23. Photo: Clara Harter, SCNG

The group Students for Justice in Palestine posted on Instagram that it had established “a second encampment at Kerckhoff patio,” adding, “we need support in numbers ASAP.” But the group warned that the action could lead to arrest. “Please take the time to assess your risk before coming,” the group warned.

Campus security took positions around the burgeoning encampment, and eventually university police were joined by officers from the Santa Monica and Los Angeles police departments, along with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.

The Los Angeles Police Department went on a citywide tactical alert late Thursday morning when protest supporters began descending on the campus, but the alert was lifted by early afternoon. Officers at the campus prevented any more people from entering the barricaded encampment, and prevented people from delivering food or water to the protesters inside.

The protest comes on the heels of a sweeping controversy spurred by demonstrations the week of April 30 that dissolved into violence and, later, a police response and arrests.

Students protest at UCLA on Thursday, May 23. Photo: Clara Harter, SCNG
Students protest at UCLA on Thursday, May 23. Photo: Clara Harter, SCNG

On Tuesday, UCLA Police Chief John Thomas was removed from his post and reassigned, as the new Office of Campus Safety continues to conduct an examination of the school’s security processes “aimed at enhancing the well-being and safety of our community,” campus officials said on Wednesday, May 22.

The move came weeks after the police agency and some administrators were criticized over their handling of demonstrations — key among the complaints was the slow law-enforcement response when violence broke out at the encampment the night of April 30 and continued into the next morning.

That attack started at about 11 p.m., with LAPD officers arriving at 1 a.m. and not breaking up the confrontation until 3 a.m. Several people were injured before police arrived.

The following day, hundreds of California Highway Patrol officers cleared the encampment, ripping apart a barricade of plywood, pallets, metal fences and trash dumpsters while also dragging away tents and canopies. More than 200 protesters or their supporters were arrested, with classes temporarily shifted to remote learning.

Days later, 44 people were arrested in a campus parking garage. UCLA police said they were carrying materials indicating they were prepared to break into and possibly barricade themselves in a building. Of those arrested, 35 were UCLA students. All but two were arrested for conspiracy to commit a crime, ABC7 reported.

City ɫ̳ Service contributed to this report.

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