Chaos on campus: Police raid UCLA and Columbia universities as 'horrific violence' breaks out at Gaza protest in LA

1 May 2024, 11:05

Police have raided Columbia and UCLA, where violence has broken out
Police have raided Columbia and UCLA, where violence has broken out. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

Police have stormed the campuses of two US universities after pro-Palestine protests descended into chaos.

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Students calling for an end to the fighting in Gaza had set up encampments at University College Los Angeles (UCLA) and Columbia University in New York.

Fighting broke out between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel groups at the Los Angeles university, with footage showing people trying to haul down barricades at the edge of encampments.

The UCLA fighting comes after Gaza protests broke out at universities across the US. They were first sparked by demonstrations in Columbia, where students set up tents in the centre of the campus in April.

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Counter protester attack a pro-Palestinian encampment set up on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) as clashes erupt
Counter protester attack a pro-Palestinian encampment set up on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) as clashes erupt. Picture: Getty
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators engulfed in tear gas regroup and rebuild the barricade surrounding the encampment set up on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators engulfed in tear gas regroup and rebuild the barricade surrounding the encampment set up on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Picture: Getty
Clashes erupt with counter protesters at UCLA
Clashes erupt with counter protesters at UCLA. Picture: Getty

At UCLA, other videos emerged on social media that showed people throwing objects at protesters in the camps, as well as fireworks being set off.

Pro-Israel protesters arrived in the middle of the night to try to tear down barricades, according to local media. A university newspaper reporter said that tear gas was used in the clashes.

UCLA vice-chancellor Mary Osako said: "Horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight, and we immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support.

“The fire department and medical personnel are on the scene. We are sickened by this senseless violence and it must end.”

Police arrived at about 9.30am UK time (01.30 am local time).

The Los Angeles mayor's office said the force was "responding immediately to [the university's] request for support on campus".

Police officers intervene the pro-Palestinian student protesters in Columbia University
Police officers intervene the pro-Palestinian student protesters in Columbia University. Picture: Getty
Police officers intervene the pro-Palestinian student protesters in Columbia University
Police officers intervene the pro-Palestinian student protesters in Columbia University. Picture: Getty
NYPD officers stand guard in riot gear
NYPD officers stand guard in riot gear. Picture: Getty

Meanwhile police also raided a protest at Columbia overnight, with several pro-Palestine activists arrested.

The protesters had taken over a university building.

University bosses had earlier sent a notice sent to protesters in the encampment on Monday said that if they leave by the designated time and sign a form committing to abide by university policies through to June 2025 or an earlier graduation, they could finish the term in good standing.

If not, the letter said, they would be suspended, pending further investigation.

Students and others at universities across the US have been sparring over the Israel-Hamas war and its mounting death toll. Many students are demanding their universities cut financial ties with Israel.

Close to 1,000 people have been arrested in pro-Palestine protests at universities across the US.

Dozens were arrested at the City University of New York on Tuesday, 36 at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and five at Florida University.

Earlier, about 275 people were arrested on Saturday at various campuses including Indiana University at Bloomington, Arizona State University and Washington University in St Louis.

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