Demonstrators lock arms on the UCLA campus, after nighttime clashes...

Demonstrators lock arms on the UCLA campus, after nighttime clashes between Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian groups, Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP/Jae C. Hong

LOS ANGELES — Law enforcement on the UCLA campus donned riot gear Wednesday evening as they ordered the dispersal of over a thousand people who had gathered in support of a pro-Palestinian student encampment, warning over loudspeakers that anyone who refused to leave could face arrest.

A large crowd of students, alumni and neighbors gathered on campus steps outside the barricaded area of tents, sitting as they listened and applauded various speakers and joined in pro-Palestinian chants. Overheard television cameras showed students in the barricaded area passing out goggles and helmets, as well as setting up medical aid stations. A small group of students holding signs and wearing T-shirts in support of Israel and Jewish people gathered nearby.

The law enforcement presence and continued warnings stood in contrast to the scene that unfolded the night before, when counter-demonstrators attacked the pro-Palestinian encampment, throwing traffic cones, releasing pepper spray and tearing down barriers. Fighting continued for several hours before police stepped in, and no one was arrested. At least 15 protesters suffered injuries, and the tepid response by authorities drew criticism from political leaders as well as Muslim students and advocacy groups.

Ray Wiliani, who lives nearby, said he came to UCLA on Wednesday evening to support the pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

“We need to take a stand for it,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

Elsewhere, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, activists clashed with police officers who destroyed their tents early Wednesday, and police dismantled an encampment at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire just hours after pro-Palestinian demonstrators put up a handful of tents. Officers arrested multiple people, including at least one professor, according to local media reports.

The chaotic scenes unfolded early Wednesday after police burst into a building occupied by anti-war protesters at Columbia University on Tuesday night, breaking up a demonstration that had paralyzed the New York school.

Using a tactical vehicle, New York City police enter an...

Using a tactical vehicle, New York City police enter an upper floor of Hamilton Hall on the Columbia University campus in New York Tuesday, April 30, 2024, after a building was taken over by protesters earlier Tuesday. Hundreds of police officers swept into Columbia University on Tuesday night to end a pro-Palestinian occupation of an administration building and sweep away a protest encampment, acting after the school’s president said there was no other way to ensure safety and restore order on campus. Credit: AP/Craig Ruttle

An Associated Press tally counted at least 38 times since April 18 where arrests were made at campus protests across the U.S. More than 1,600 people have been arrested at 30 schools.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement that “a group of instigators” perpetrated the previous night's attack, but he did not provide details about the crowd or why the administration and school police did not act sooner.

“However one feels about the encampment, this attack on our students, faculty and community members was utterly unacceptable,” he said. “It has shaken our campus to its core.”

Block promised a review of the night's events after California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Los Angeles mayor denounced the delays.

Members of the New York Police Department strategic response team...

Members of the New York Police Department strategic response team move towards an entrance to Columbia University, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in New York. After entering the campus, a contingent of police officers approached Hamilton Hall, the administration building that student protesters began occupying in the morning. Credit: AP/Julius Motal

“The community needs to feel the police are protecting them, not enabling others to harm them,” Rebecca Husaini, chief of staff for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said in a news conference on the Los Angeles campus later Wednesday, where some Muslim students detailed the overnight events.

Speakers disputed the university’s account that 15 people were injured and one hospitalized, saying the number of people taken to the hospital was higher. One student described needing to go to the hospital after being hit in the head by an object wielded by counter-protesters.

Several students who spoke during the news conference said they had to rely on each other, not the police, for support as they were attacked, and that many in the pro-Palestinian encampment remained peaceful and did not engage with counter-protesters. UCLA canceled classes Wednesday.

Tent encampments of protesters calling on universities to stop doing business with Israel or companies they say support the war in Gaza have spread across campuses nationwide in a student movement unlike any other this century. The ensuing police crackdowns echoed actions decades ago against a much larger protest movement protesting the Vietnam War.

In Madison, a scrum broke out early Wednesday after police with shields removed all but one tent and shoved protesters. Four officers were injured, including a state trooper who was hit in the head with a skateboard, authorities said. Four were charged with battering law enforcement.

This is all playing out in an election year in the U.S., raising questions about whether young voters — who are critical for Democrats — will back President Joe Biden's reelection effort, given his staunch support of Israel.

In rare instances, university officials and protest leaders struck agreements to restrict the disruption to campus life and upcoming commencement ceremonies.

At Brown University in Rhode Island, administrators agreed to consider a vote to divest from Israel in October — apparently the first U.S. college to agree to such a demand.

The nationwide campus demonstrations began at Columbia on April 17 to protest Israel’s offensive in Gaza after Hamas launched a deadly attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Militants killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages. Vowing to stamp out Hamas, Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, according to the Health Ministry there.

Israel and its supporters have branded the university protests antisemitic, while Israel’s critics say it uses those allegations to silence opposition. Although some protesters have been caught on camera making antisemitic remarks or violent threats, organizers of the protests, some of whom are Jewish, say it is a peaceful movement aimed at defending Palestinian rights and protesting the war.

Late Tuesday, New York City police officers entered Columbia's campus and cleared an encampment, along with Hamilton Hall, where a stream of officers used a ladder to climb through a second-floor window, and police said protesters inside presented no substantial resistance.

The demonstrators had seized the Ivy League school building about 20 hours earlier, ramping up their presence on the campus from a tent encampment that had been there for nearly two weeks.

They encountered police clearing tents early on, as well as more than 100 arrests and threats of suspension unless they abandoned the encampment Monday. Instead, protesters took over Hamilton Hall early Tuesday.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams blamed “outside agitators” on Wednesday for leading the demonstrations and repeatedly cited the presence of a woman on Columbia’s campus whose husband Adams said had been “convicted for terrorism." The woman, Nahla Al-Arian, wasn’t on Columbia’s campus this week and isn’t among the protesters who were arrested.

Al-Arian, a retired elementary school teacher, told The Associated Press that Adams misstated both her role in the protests and the facts about her husband, Sami Al-Arian, a prominent Palestinian activist. Nahla Al-Arian said she did go to Columbia for one day on April 25 to see the protest encampment there but left after she got tired.

Meanwhile, protest encampments elsewhere were cleared by the police, resulting in arrests, or closed up voluntarily at schools across the U.S., including The City College of New York, Fordham University in New York, Portland State in Oregon, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and Tulane University in New Orleans.

___

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that New York City Mayor Eric Adams said a woman on Columbia’s campus had been “convicted for terrorism.” Adams said that about the husband of a woman who had been on campus.

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