Pro-Palestinian Activists Erect New UCLA Encampment

While UCLA Chancellor Gene Block was being grilled by members of Congress for his handling of pro-Palestinian protests, activists on campus erected a new encampment early on May 23, drawing police in riot gear who declared the gathering unlawful and dispersed the crowd.    

The protesters set up the encampment between Kerckhoff and Moore Halls, using tables and metal fences to seal off the area, while police and security officers created their own perimeter to block people from entering.  

Police occasionally clashed with protesters as they entered the encampment, and protesters at one point surged past the police perimeter to deliver water to the encampment, according to City News Service. 

By approximately 1:15 p.m., police had cleared the area in front of the encampment, and protesters moved to Murphy Hall to continue the demonstration, chanting “Long Live the Intifada” and blocking a part of Charles E. Young Drive. 

Marie Salem, a media liaison for the protesters, told the Courier the action was not directly in response to Block’s testimony but a continued effort to pressure the university to divest from Israel, disclose its finances and offer amnesty for students who have been arrested. 

“We’re here because our demands have not been met and the administration refused to come to the table,” Salem said.  

Salem said the demonstration was organized by a group called the Collective Liberation of Palestine composed of various advocacy organizations, and some demonstrators carried picket signs saying, “UAW Rank & File Workers for Palestine.” 

United Auto Workers Union Local 4811, which represents 48,000 unionized academic workers across the UC system, called on its UCLA workers to strike beginning May 28. 

During the Congressional hearing, Block came under fire from House Republicans who questioned him about the violence that took place on April 30 when a pro-Palestinian encampment was attacked by counter-protestors. Block said its police department has not yet made any arrests, and the LAPD was helping to identify perpetrators of the violence. 

Before that encampment was engulfed in violence and ultimately dismantled, many Jewish students said they were intimidated by it, as videos went viral of protesters denying access to Jewish students who did not renounce Zionism, and demonstrators repeated chants like “from the river to the sea” which has been deemed antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League.

Block’s hearing, along with leaders of Northwestern and Rutgers universities, was third since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel in which House Republicans criticized universities for actions that they said allowed antisemitism to spread on campus. 

Representatives for UCLA, the UCLA Police Department and UAW 4811 did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

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