Dueling Palestine, Israel protests continue on UCLA campus

Fights broke out at UCLA Sunday among pro- Palestinian and pro-Israel supporters after a barrier was breached meant to separate the dueling groups of demonstrators.

The Israeli American Council, along with several other Jewish organizations, sponsored an 11 a.m. rally to show support for Jewish students after days of often intense pro-Palestinian protests at campuses across the United States, including at crosstown USC.

Members of the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice scheduled a 9:30 a.m. demonstration to support students' right to protest, in response to a request from pro-Palestine protesters at the campus.

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"This morning, a group of demonstrators breached a barrier that the university had established separating two groups of protestors on our campus, resulting in physical altercations," Mary Osako, vice chancellor of UCLA Strategic Communications, said in a statement provided to City News Service. "UCLA has a long history of being a place of peaceful protest, and we are heartbroken about the violence that broke out."

According to the Daily Bruin, members of both groups were facing off on the lawn between Haines Hall and Kaplan Hall Sunday morning.

"Fights have broken out between protesters supporting Israel and those supporting Palestine in Dickson Plaza," the newspaper reported at 10:57 a.m.

Among the speakers at the pro-Israel rally was Elan Carr, CEO of the Israeli American Council.

"We will take back our campuses, from Columbia to UCLA and everywhere in between," he told the crowd, according to the Daily Bruin.

No arrests were reported as of midday Sunday.

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"My team and I are closely tracking the protests at UCLA today, and are in close communication with UCLA leadership and City officials to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone on campus," City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky posted on X.

Later in the afternoon, a phalanx of campus police entered the area to keep the groups apart. The Daily Bruin reported that the pro-Israel group had largely dispersed.

"Pro-Palestine protesters walked through campus and have now stopped between Pauley Pavilion and the Central Ticket Office," the campus newspaper posted at 3:12 p.m. "Some have formed a human wall by the Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center to stop counter-protesters who followed the crowd."

A few minutes later, the newspaper reported that the pro-Palestinian demonstrators also began to disperse.

Overnight, the pro-Palestine protesters had expanded their campus encampment outside to stretch from the top of the Janss Steps to the east end of Royce Hall.

The growing number of pro-Palestine protesters has been met with an equally fervent group of counter-protesters who played loud music near the encampment and shouted chants about Palestine preceded by an obscenity, according to the Daily Bruin.

One counter-protester stomped on a Palestinian flag at the encampment while another ripped posters off the exterior of the encampment, the Daily Bruin reported.

As of Sunday morning, groups supporting the counter-protesters had raised $64,478 on GoFundMe to support Bruins for Israel, more the twice the initial $26,000 goal.

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The makeshift cluster of more than 50 camping tents for the pro- Palestine protesters began forming early Thursday and continued to grow over the weekend.

Organizers of UCLA's Palestine Solidarity Encampment, similar to their counterparts at USC, issued a list of demands calling for divestment of all University of California and UCLA Foundation funds from companies tied to Israel, along with a demand that the university call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and an academic boycott by UC against Israeli universities, including a suspension of study-abroad programs.

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It was unclear whether all of the participants were UCLA students.

The University of California issued a statement Friday noting that the university has "consistently opposed calls for boycott against and divestment from Israel. While the University affirms the right of our community members to express diverse viewpoints, a boycott of this sort impinges on the academic freedom of our students and faculty and the unfettered exchange of ideas on our campuses.

"UC tuition and fees are the primary funding sources for the University's core operations. None of these funds are used for investment purposes," the statement continued.