Violent clashes break out between Gaza, Israel protesters at UCLA

"LAPD has arrived on campus."

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

Police were called to the campus of UCLA early on Wednesday morning to find violent clashes between the Gaza camp protesters and counter-protesters supporting Israel. The fight between protesters went on for hours as people hit each other with sticks and used barricades as weapons. Additional reports said that fireworks were thrown as weapons.

Upon their arrival at UCLA, LAPD said there were "multiple acts of violence within the large encampment." Gaza camp protesters claimed that the counter-protesters carried out "an act of terror" against them. UC Divest UCLA said "The life-threatening assault we face tonight is nothing less than a horrifying, despicable act of terror."

Those students who had erected the Gaza camp complained that police and security did not help them. "Law enforcement simply stood at the edge of the lawn and refused to budge as we screamed for their help," they said. 

UCLA declared the encampment "unlawful" early in the evening on Tuesday and asked the student protesters to negotiate the removal of their Gaza camp. The protesters issued their own list of demands. Then they began "self defense training."

Independent journalist Anthony Cabassa was on the scene and though he was initially prevented from moving into the area to document the protest, he used a drone to capture footage of the "self defense" training. This included hand-to-hand combat.

A few hours later, counter-protesters attended the encampment. They played the national anthem on loudspeakers.

And the counter-protesters kept coming, bringing in more loudspeakers. Campus security was called in to the barrier separating the two groups.

It wasn't long before that private security left the encampment after being maced, Cabassa said, noting that protesters were also maced and fights were breaking out.

After security "abandoned their posts," Cabassa reported fights breaking out between the two protest factions. "Armed men now fighting and launching items at each other from either side of the encampment. Total chaos, there’s ZERO police presence," he said.

Security, he said, was ordered to stand down. Amid multiple injuries, EMS was called and responded to the scene. Security stood around and watched the chaos unfold.

Injuries mounted, Cabassa said, but no help from authorities was forthcoming. 

The mayhem continued.

"Total anarchy," Cabassa reported, as students, protesters, and agitators continued brawling.

Hired security stood idly by and watched the melee.

By 1:30 am, Cabassa reported that the crowds continued to increase and that despite reports, LAPD was nowhere to be found.

When LAPD finally did arrive, hours into the violence, counter-protesters chanted "USA USA USA."

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass took to X to vent her frustration, saying "The violence unfolding this evening at UCLA is absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable." She then announced, "LAPD has arrived on campus."

Governor Gavin Newsom's office chimed in, saying "Our office is closely monitoring the situation at UCLA. Law enforcement leaders are in contact this evening and resources are being mobilized."

Cabassa reported that LAPD had separated the factions but that the scuffles continued and some people were maced.

LAPD, he said, were "not responding to the continued violence" and fighting continued.

LAPD moved in with gas masks and batons at the ready.

Gaza camp protesters who had been occupying the UCLA campus chanted "pigs go home" as pro-Israel protesters chanted "USA." A thin line of officers were surrounded on all sides by photographers and people filming on their cell phones.

LAPD separated the factions, Cabassa said, but were ordered not to make arrests.

It was after the police arrived that Cabassa posted that what he witnessed was "complete lawlessness, anarchy, body’s dragged away after scuffles, blood, mace after mace after mace spray, fires, explosives, the list goes on. The school and the city failed the students tonight. Insanity."

Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications, told campus newspaper the Daily Bruin that "Horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight and we immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support." And that "We are sickened by this senseless violence and it must end."

By 4 am, Cabassa reported that police had "taken control of the area." The encampment, he said, "remains, but both groups of protesters no longer have access to each other." 

Cabassa had arrived at UCLA to cover the protests and Gaza Camp occupation, much like many others that have blossomed on college campuses across the US. Students who have come to see the world as a valiant battle between the oppressed and their oppressors set up pup tents and set out sunbathing on campus with a plan to stop the war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Cabassa said that when he began to film, some of his things were stolen, such as his phone charger. He reported that security, when approached, were entirely unhelpful, saying to "talk to admin." From there, he was passed around to other officials, none of whom aided the recovery of his property.

He was cornered by protesters who blocked him from filming, using the common tactic of holding of flags or banners in front of him to prevent him from filming, leaving, or removing himself from the protesters. One of the protesters had an Antifa logo on their cap.

Protesters would not allow media inside to report on the encampment or protest, Cabassa said, unless it was "for their cause."

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