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Police presence at UCLA ramps up again after protesters, counter-protesters clash over Israel-Hamas war

Mounting tensions on U.S. campuses boiled over on Wednesday when pro-Israel supporters attacked an encampment of pro-Palestinian and anti-war protesters at UCLA, just hours after police arrested activists who occupied a building at Columbia University and flattened a tent city on its campus.

New York mayor says nearly 300 people arrested in Columbia campus raid; 30 arrested after clashes in Wisconsin

Pro-Palestinian protesters, counter-protesters clash at UCLA campus

20 hours ago

Duration 0:36

Scuffles broke out between pro-Palestinian protesters and counter-protesters at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) campus overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. An eyewitness captured the chaos as a firework was thrown towards a protest encampment.

Mounting tensions on U.S. campuses boiled over on Wednesday when pro-Israel supporters attacked an encampment of pro-Palestinian and anti-war protesters at UCLA, just hours after police arrested activists who occupied a building at Columbia University and flattened a tent city on its campus.

Police deployed in force on the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on Wednesday morning after Israel supporters attacked a camp set up by pro-Palestinian protesters.

Witness footage from the scene, verified by Reuters, showed people wielding sticks or poles to attack wooden boards being used as makeshift barricades to protect the pro-Palestinian protesters.

Police were responding to UCLA chancellor Gene Block's request for support, said Los Angeles deputy mayor of communications Zach Seidl on the social media platform X.

The Los Angeles Police Department also posted on X it was responding to UCLA's request "due to multiple acts of violence within the large encampment on their campus," to restore order and maintain public safety. By 5 a.m. they had erected a metal crowd barrier in front of the encampment and the area was quiet. But on Wednesday night, a heavy police presence was back as officials called it a "unlawful assembly."

WATCH | Heavy police presence on UCLA campus:

U.S. campuses see clashes, arrests as Canadian encampments grow

2 hours ago

Duration 9:32

After arrests at New York's Columbia University, Los Angeles police appear to be preparing to move in on protesters at UCLA. The number of encampments in solidarity with the Palestinian cause continue to grow as students camped at Montreal's McGill University say they're not going anywhere.

Footage from the early hours showed mostly male counter-demonstrators, many of them masked and some apparently older than students, throwing objects and trying to smash or pull down the wooden and steel barriers erected to shield the encampment.

Some yelled pro-Jewish comments as pro-Palestinian protesters tried to fight them off.

"They were coming up here and just violently attacking us," said pro-Palestinian protester Kaia Shah, a researcher at UCLA.

"I just didn't think they would ever get to this, escalate to this level, where our protest is met by counter-protesters who are violently hurting us, inflicting pain on us, when we are not doing anything to them."

A woman lowers a handkerchief to receive water on her face from a bottle in a nighttime photo.

Demonstrators on both sides sprayed each other with pepper spray and fights broke out.

Another pro-Palestinian student protester, Sophia Sandino, said: "We had people [spraying] us, beating us with bats and sticks, throwing whatever they could to us and none of this law enforcement was here at all. So it's kind of disappointing that we're seen as the perpetrators here."

Katy Yaroslavsky, a Los Angeles city council member whose district includes UCLA, posted on X: "Everyone has a right to free speech and protest, but the situation on UCLA's campus is out of control and is no longer safe."

Fifteen people were injured during the UCLA confrontation, including one person who was hospitalized, according to University of California system president Michael V. Drake.

A man with a mask on his face lifts a metallic fence and appears ready to throw it.

UCLA is part of the University of California system. It has about 32,000 undergraduate students and is located in the residential neighborhood of Westwood just outside of Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles.

Last weekend, hundreds of counter-protesters had turned up there chanting support for Israel, hoisting signs and waving blue-and-white Israeli flags.

Supporters of Israel erected a screen that played a video loop of scenes from the Hamas Oct. 7 attack. The two sides taunted one another, pushed, shoved and threw punches while campus police struggled to contain the skirmishes.

Arrests in Wisconsin follow Columbia raid

On Wednesday morning, police were removing an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus. Nearly 60 police officers, some with riot shields, arrived and began removing tents and other items, WISC-TV reported.

A police officer with yells while hitting a protester with his shield amid clashes between police and other protesters.

Video from WISC-TV showed police with riot shields pushing against protesters and the protesters pushing back while chanting slogans, including "Free Free Palestine."

More than 30 people were arrested, most of them released without charges, but four were charged with battering law enforcement, police said.

Four officers were injured, including a state trooper who was hit in the head with a skateboard, according to University of Wisconsin police spokesperson Marc Lovicott. Within hours, protesters had erected more tents at the UW campus.

The station said that at least 10 protesters were taken away by police with their hands zip-tied by officers.

Three police officers wearing baseball caps carry a person wearing boots in an outdoor photo.

Protest encampments on campuses have been set up with greater frequency this month in several states in the U.S.in solidarity with students at Columbia University in New York City. There have also been encampments set up at some Canadian campuses.

Late on Tuesday, New York City police arrested dozens of pro-Palestinian and anti-war demonstrators holed up in an academic building on Columbia's Manhattan campus and removed a protest encampment that the Ivy League school had sought to dismantle for nearly two weeks.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday that about 300 people were arrested.

"We are processing the arrests to distinguish between who were actual students and who were not supposed to be on the ground," said Adams.

Police officers in helmets are shown climbing a ladder to gain entry inside a stone building.

White House condemns violence, occupation

The clashes at UCLA, in New York and elsewhere are part of the biggest outpouring of U.S. student activism since the anti-racism rallies and marches of 2020.

There have been confrontations with law enforcement and more than 1,300 arrests. In rare instances, university officials and protest leaders struck agreements to restrict the disruption to campus life and upcoming commencement ceremonies.

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 re-election effort, given his staunch support of Israel.

The White House, while expressing support for freedom of assembly, criticized "forcibly taking over buildings" in a statement on Tuesday.

A line of police officers wearing helmets are shown standing on a university campus.

The U.S. protests have been duly noted in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the demonstration antisemitic and intimidating to Jewish students.

Many Jewish students are among the organizers of the Columbia protest, though, and bristle at allegations of antisemitism.

About 1,200 people in southern Israel were killed in the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel led by Hamas, considered a terrorist group by many Western governments. The Israeli retaliatory assault has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to health ministry figures.

WATCH | Live coverage of the altercations on Wednesday morning:

Supporters of Israel clash with pro-Palestinian protesters at UCLA

18 hours ago

Duration 8:15

Violence broke out at the University of California Los Angeles overnight between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters. Police in riot gear arrived but did not immediately intervene.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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