Police arrest 25 protesters at UCLA after new encampment declared illegal

Police arrested 25 protesters in support of the Palestinian cause and broke up an encampment declared illegal at UCLA Monday night, a month after officers broke up a weekslong encampment there and arrested hundreds.

The UCLA Police Department said in a statement early Tuesday that about 150 protesters remained at the scene and accused activists of vandalizing university property and disrupting final exams, which are taking place this week.

There has been a flaring of tension on major U.S. college campuses in recent days, weeks after police moved to break up protests across the country, from New York to California, arresting more than 2,000 people.

In a brief statement, Mary Osako, UCLA vice chancellor for strategic communications, said: “Our Students Affairs and Campus Safety teams are on site to help ensure the well-being and safety of our community.”

Police arrived Monday after about 100 people "set up an unauthorized and unlawful encampment with tents, canopies, wooden shields, and water-filled barriers," at the top of the Janss Steps after 3:15 p.m.

Police called out a dispersal order through a loudspeaker, warning protesters they were part of an “unlawful assembly,” and the group moved on, police said.

“If you remain in the area as described, regardless of your purpose, in remaining you will be in violation of section 409,” the message said. That section of the California Criminal Code carries a potential $1,000 fine and a jail sentence of up to 6 months.

But the group then moved to a new area nearby and attempted to set up a new encampment that included barricades and patio furniture, police said.

Protesters then moved to the courtyard outside Dodd Hall, the scene of violent confrontations between police and protesters, and between rival groups, in late April.

Video shared by the UCLA Faculty Association showed a female protester in the courtyard with a loudspeaker shouting, "No racist police!" before she was grabbed and taken to the ground by officers in riot gear. The association called on college leaders to "desist from using police violence against students and employees."

The arrests happened around 8 p.m. after protesters began reading out the names of thousands of Palestinians said to have died in Israeli military action in Gaza. They were arrested on suspicion of willfully disrupting college operations, a crime that carries a potential six-month jail sentence, and ordered to stay away from the campus for 14 days.

College newspaper the Daily Bruin shared footage of a standoff between campus police, city police, California Highway Patrol officers and protesters at 11:43 p.m.

"We just want you to free our people," one protester says in that video, apparently referring to those taken into custody. "There's a genocide going on and you guys are arresting and brutalizing students!" another cries.

Several protesters were arrested by UCLA police following a new attempt to set up an encampment on the University campus.

Police officers disperse pro-Palestinian protesters following a new attempt to set up an encampment in the University of California Los Angeles on Monday night.Etienne Laurent / AFP - Getty Images

Chabad at UCLA, a Jewish campus organization, shared footage on social media of a confrontation between its members and masked pro-Palestinian protesters, which it said showed evidence of an “assault” as the person holding the phone taking the video was knocked to the ground.

In comments likely to reignite the debate about the safety of Jewish students, one masked man called the person shooting video a “f---ing pedophile,” before adding “go back to Poland, Ukraine, where you’re really f---ing from.” The man was wearing a hat which said “1492,” a reference to the year Jews were forcibly expelled from Catholic Spain.

Another man is heard saying, “Death to f---ing Zionists.”

In a statement titled "WE'RE BACK B------!" the Students for Justice in Palestine group at UCLA confirmed it would continue protesting until its list of demands are met, including the college's divestment from all Israeli business interests.

"This escalation was brought about because of UCLA’s erasure and disregard for the demands of the student body, including a call to recognize and divest from the 76 years of merciless occupation and its escalation into genocide by the Zionist state of Israel," the statement said.

police arrest 25 protesters at ucla after new encampment declared illegal
Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

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