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Police clear pro-Palestinian camp at University of California

Hundreds of helmeted police have swarmed the site of a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of California at Los Angeles, firing flash bangs, arresting defiant demonstrators and dismantling their encampment.

Law enforcement officers detain a demonstrator, as they clear out the protest encampment in support of Palestinians at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, California, May 2. Reuters photo

 

The pre-dawn police crackdown at UCLA marked the latest flashpoint in mounting tensions on US college campuses, where protests over Israel’s war in Gaza have led to student clashes with each other and with law enforcement.

“I’m a student here. I’m an English major,” one student said to television cameras, as police dragged him away. “Please don’t fail us. Don’t fail us.”

Prior to moving in, police urged demonstrators in repeated announcements to clear the protest zone, which occupied a central plaza about the size of a football field.

After massing for hours, officers eventually moved through the area in lines holding batons as protesters – some in white helmets – linked arms, attempting to block their advance.

Live TV footage showed officers taking down tents, tearing apart barricades and removing the encampment, while arrested protesters sat with their hands restrained behind their backs with zip-ties.

Students have rallied or set up tents at dozens of schools in recent days, calling on President Joe Biden, who has supported Israel’s right to defend itself, to do more to stop the bloodshed in Gaza and demanding schools divest from companies that support Israel’s government.

Many of the schools, including Columbia University in New York City, have called in police to quell the protests.

Biden broke his silence on the demonstrations on Thursday, saying Americans have the right to protest but not to unleash violence.

“Destroying property is not a peaceful protest,” he said at the White House. “It’s against the law. Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancelling of classes and graduations – none of this is a peaceful protest.”

But Biden also rejected the idea of deploying the National Guard to campuses.

Biden, who is seeking re-election in November against Republican former President Donald Trump, has walked a careful line as he confronts criticism from both the right and the left over his Israel policy.

Source: Reuters

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