UCLA protest: Over 200 arrested as pro-Palestine encampment cleared

More than 200 protesters were taken into custody Thursday following a nearly nine-hour standoff as hundreds of law enforcement officers breached and dismantled a Pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA, bringing an end to a week-long protest calling on University of California officials to divest from Israel.

Police began to move in on pro-Palestine protesters around 3 a.m. on UCLA's campus after demonstrators refused to clear out despite being ordered to leave last night after it was declared an unlawful assembly. 

LAPD Interim Chief Dominic Choi said a total of 210 arrests were made by the UCLA Police Department for Failure to Disperse.

"I want to extend my gratitude to our law enforcement partners from all over the region, who came together and worked in partnership to ensure safety and security was restored to the UCLA campus.I am thankful there were no serious injuries to officers or protesters," Choi said in a statement Thursday. 

Tensions heightened as officers with the Los Angeles Police Department and the California Highway Patrol worked to dismantle barriers built by demonstrators. Hundreds of officers advanced on the encampment from both sides of Royce Hall, meeting with heavy resistance on the northwestern corner but successfully reaching the camp's edge on the northeast side. Some protesters were seen trying to resist, shining bright flashlights in the eyes of officers. Others remained steadfast and formed a line with their arms linked, facing off with an equally long line of officers.

Once the northern flank in front of Royce Hall had been secured, police closed in on the encampment, removing more tents and pushing protesters deeper into the camp.

Some protesters decided to leave the area voluntarily, grabbing their tents and other belongings.

Protesters were detained using zip-ties to secure their hands behind their backs, then escorted out of the area and loaded onto sheriff's department buses. Those buses then took the protesters to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility to be processed. 

FOX 11 was told those who were arrested were cited for unlawful assembly. They were given breakfast, then released. They are set to appear in court at a later date.

A charge of unlawful assembly in California carries a maximum penalty of up to 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

All classes on Thursday and Friday will be held remotely, with university officials saying operations at the Westwood campus would be "limited." All campus employees were "encouraged to work remotely wherever possible."

Once the encampment was cleared, the extent of damage done to the campus was evident. The front of Royce Hall and Powell Library suffered extensive graffiti damage, some of it profane. The area was filled with garbage and leftover supplies that were provided to the protesters - everything from batteries and flashlights to food and plywood was seen.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has since released a statement addressing the encampment arrests, saying in part, "In the end, the encampment on Royce Quad was both unlawful and a breach of policy. It led to unsafe conditions on our campus and it damaged our ability to carry out our mission. It needed to come to an end."

UCLA made global headlines for the wrong reasons on Tuesday night after punches were thrown and fireworks were being thrown at the pro-Palestine encampments – all while law enforcement officers were nowhere to be found when FOX 11 was live at the scene for 2-plus hours and members of a private security firm were seen standing still as chaos unfolded a short distance away.

"Every student deserves to be safe and live peacefully on their campus. Harassment, vandalism and violence have no place at UCLA or anywhere in our city," said LA Mayor Karen Bass in a statement. "My office will continue to coordinate closely with local and state law enforcement, area universities and community leaders to keep campuses safe and peaceful."


The Federated University Police Officers’ Association (FUPOA), a union representing campus police, insinuated that the university was to blame for Tuesday's unrest. Below was a statement released by FUPOA:

"The decisions regarding the response of the UC Police rest firmly in the hands of campus leadership. They shoulder the accountability for the outcomes stemming from these decisions, not the UC Police Department."

UC President Michael V. Drake also issued a statement on Tuesday's violence.

"This morning, the University of California community woke up to shocking scenes from UCLA of a protest that turned violent overnight. Through the early morning hours, mutual aid was summoned from the LAPD and others to help UCLA restore control. Unfortunately, there were a reported 15 injuries, including one hospitalization. The situation has been stabilized and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has reiterated that, having declared the encampment unlawful yesterday, he will dismantle it at the appropriate time. My office has requested a detailed accounting from the campus about what transpired in the early morning hours today. But some confusion remains. Therefore, we are also ordering an independent external review of both UCLA’s planning and actions, and the effectiveness of the mutual aid response. Such a review will help us address many immediate questions but also help guide us in possible future events."

LAPD issued the following statement in response to Tuesday's campus chaos:

"Last night, the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as several other state and local law-enforcement agencies, responded to the UCLA campus. UCLA requested mutual aid after reports of violent clashes between protesters. Once mutual aid resources were formed and coordinated, they separated the two groups. No arrests were made, no force was used, and no officers were injured. The Los Angeles Police Department, along with other local law-enforcement agencies, will remain in the area to ensure public safety until the situation is resolved."

President Joe Biden delivered remarks Thursday addressing the growing wave of college protests nationwide. 

"Dissent is essential for democracy," he said at the White House. "But dissent must never lead to disorder."

RELATED: University protests must remain peaceful, Biden says

Biden said the campus protests haven’t prompted him to rethink his Middle East policies, and he opposes sending in the National Guard.

Tent encampments of protesters calling on universities to stop doing business with Israel or companies they say support the war in Gaza have spread across campuses nationwide in a student movement.

Police have arrested more than 2,000 people during pro-Palestinian protests at college campuses across the United States in recent weeks, according to an Associated Press tally Thursday.

CNS and The Associated Press contributed to this report.