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Violence erupts at UC San Diego as police in riot gear arrest 64 pro-Palestinian encampment activists

‘Encampment participants were repeatedly provided with opportunities and warnings to disperse’

Violence erupted as police in riot gear cleared out a pro-Palestinian encampment at UC San Diego on Monday.

More than five dozen demonstrators were arrested during a raid that at times turned violent as protesters and police clashed, according to local news reports and social media posts from activists.

The raid began around 6:30 a.m., after administrators warned students they would clear out the encampment by force. At times, activists and police tussled, pepper spray was deployed, and demonstrators stood in front of buses transporting those arrested to jail, videos show.

Prior to the officers arriving on campus, administrators closed the west side of the university where the activity was located and switched to online classes.

Monday’s crackdown “followed five days of peaceful protest on a campus that had so far avoided the kinds of clashes that have roiled other campuses nationwide amid demonstrations against Israel’s war in Gaza,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“But throughout Monday morning, hundreds of police clashed with protesters near the university’s iconic Geisel Library, after authorities quickly dismantled a tent village and arrested about 64 demonstrators for unlawful assembly, in a crackdown that drew swift condemnation from some faculty members.”

A statement released Monday afternoon by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla called the encampment illegal and pointed out activists were given “multiple, clear requests to disperse.”

Khosla added:

Sixty-four individuals were arrested after refusing the dispersal requests. Of those, 40 were identified as students and are facing interim suspension for violation of the student code of conduct. Twenty-four are either unidentified at this time or are unaffiliated with the university. Two minor injuries were reported.

Before any arrests were made this morning, encampment participants were repeatedly provided with opportunities and warnings to disperse. While many people voluntarily left the encampment, regrettably others chose to stay and be arrested. The campsite was dismantled within one hour and without any serious incidents.

The decision to clear the campsite was made due to consideration of the significant dangers to people inside and outside of the encampment. Upon entering the campsite, wooden stakes, propane tanks, metal and plywood shields, aerosol spray cans and a sword were discovered, all of which posed unacceptable hazards for health, fire safety and security. Additionally, participants denied access to fire marshal and health inspectors, established check points and limited free access to areas of campus. These are all intolerable actions on the UC San Diego campus, which exists for the benefit of all university affiliates.

After the encampment was removed, protesters interfered with police operations, including physically obstructing San Diego County Sheriff officers and buses, blocking movement and banging on windows in an attempt to hinder the arrest process. This resulted in one additional arrest.

Dialogue, free speech and academic freedom are cornerstones of our university. At the same time, we must ensure that Tritons, regardless of opinions and identity, have equal access to our campus and that everyone has the opportunity to work and learn in an environment free from harassment, intimidation or discrimination. We will not waver in our focus to sustain the safety, well-being and success of our campus community as we fulfill our academic mission.

UC San Diego Hillel told the Guardian student newspaper its members appreciated the encampment’s removal.

“We are appreciative of the university leadership for taking the necessary steps to enforce its policies and code of conduct to ensure that our university remains a safe and welcoming space,” the statement read.

MORE: Dueling pro-Palestinian, pro-Israel demonstrations hit Clemson

IMAGES: social media screenshot

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.