Pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA continues to grow, met by Israeli supporters

The group was met by Israeli supporters in what is a growing display of tensions among college students and groups in L.A.

Friday, April 26, 2024
Pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA continues to grow
The group was met by Israeli supporters in what is a growing display of tensions among college students and groups in Los Angeles.

WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Demonstrations at UCLA continued Friday after pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment on campus.

A day after nearly 100 people were arrested following pro-Palestine demonstrations at USC, a similar protest emerged on the Westwood campus of UCLA, with participants forming an encampment of tents outside Royce Hall.

So far, the protests have been peaceful. The group is supporting Palestinians impacted by Israel's war in Gaza, and among the things they are demanding is for the university to cut financial ties with Israel, along with a university call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

They are also demanding an academic boycott by UC against Israeli universities, including a suspension of study-abroad programs.

The group was met by Israeli supporters in what is a growing display of tensions among college students and groups in Los Angeles. They say that they believe that some of the language from the pro-Palestinian protests have been anti-Jewish.

"We're not here because we want the focus to be on us. We're here because we want the focus to be on Palestine. This is us trying to call attention to what's happening in Palestine," said Annie, a pro-Palestinian demonstrator.

"There is nothing peaceful or loving about the message coming from behind us plain and simple. It's a message of hate...from the river to the sea. Let's stop and analyze what that means," said Richard Jacobs, a pro-Israel demonstrator.

UCLA officials say they are watching the situation closely as the campus remains open for classroom instruction and visitors.

"At this time, the same access restrictions to Royce Hall and Powell Library remain in place and students should be prepared to show their Bruin Card for entry into these buildings," said the university in a statement Friday.

So far there have not been any injuries or arrests.

"Top priority is safety"

Mary Osako, the vice chancellor of UCLA Strategic Communications, issued a statement Thursday, saying the university's top priority is always "the safety and wellbeing of our entire Bruin community."

"We're actively monitoring this situation to support a peaceful campus environment that respects our community's right to free expression while minimizing disruption to our teaching and learning mission."

USC cancels main graduation ceremony amid controversy over valedictorian speech, protests

Citing "new safety measures," USC canceled the main graduation ceremony that had been planned for May 10.

"With the new safety measures in place this year, the time needed to process the large number of guests coming to campus will increase substantially," read a statement posted on USC's website. "As a result, we will not be able to host the main stage ceremony that traditionally brings 65,000 students, families, and friends to our campus all at the same time and during a short window from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m."

The university says it will still host dozens of commencement events, including all the traditional individual school commencement ceremonies where students cross a stage and receive their diplomas.

"We understand that this is disappointing; however, we are adding many new activities and celebrations to make this commencement academically meaningful, memorable, and uniquely USC, including places to gather with family, friends, faculty, and staff, the celebratory releasing of the doves, and performances by the Trojan Marching Band."

Tensions were already high after the university canceled a planned commencement speech by Asna Tabassum, the school's pro-Palestinian valedictorian over safety concerns.

Tabassum recently spoke out after the university's move, saying she isn't buying the safety claim and said she wasn't provided specifics when she pressed university officials.

"Almost a one-way conversation - and then the next day they came to me, they gave me a call and said 'It's unfortunate, but you don't get to speak,'" Tabassum recalled.

USC Provost Andrew Guzman previously said that debate over the selection of Tabassum to give the commencement speech took on an "alarming tenor." Her speech would have presented "substantial" security risks for the event that draws 65,000 people to campus, he said.

While Guzman did not specify whether there had been threats, he said "we cannot ignore the fact that similar risks have led to harassment and even violence at other campuses."

City News Service Inc. contributed to this report.