Saturday, June 15

Chancellor Block claims unsafe university conditions led to encampment closure

UCLA staff clears Dickson Plaza of debris following Thursday morning’s police sweep of the Palestine solidarity encampment. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

This post was updated May 3 at 12:53 a.m.

Chancellor Gene Block released a statement Thursday afternoon claiming that the Palestine solidarity encampment had been shut down because it led to unsafe university conditions and interfered with UCLA’s educational mission.

Block confirmed that more than 200 people were arrested, with more than 300 leaving voluntarily Thursday morning following a police sweep of the encampment. The dispersal followed an outbreak of violence Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, during which counter-protesters attacked the encampment using fireworks, tear gas and by throwing projectiles.

The UC Divest Coalition and Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA began the encampment April 25, calling for the UC to divest from companies associated with the Israeli military, among other demands. The effort followed the establishment of similar encampments at other universities nationwide. 

UCLA had declared the encampment “unlawful” in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

In the statement Thursday, Block said the university attempted to negotiate with protesters in the encampment for a voluntary dispersal but added that such meetings were ultimately inconclusive. Law enforcement officers issued multiple dispersal orders Wednesday evening, and protesters were given opportunities to leave the encampment peacefully prior to when police entered the barricades, he said.

Block said the university had allowed the encampment to remain in Dickson Plaza as long as it did not compromise student safety.

“In the end, the encampment on Royce Quad was both unlawful and a breach of policy,” he said in the statement. “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.”

Block said the encampment had affected the university’s education goals, given that violence related to the encampment led to the closure of academic buildings and cancellation of classes. In addition, Block said demonstrators in the encampment directly obstructed students’ pathways to classrooms.

The statement and the dispersal of the encampment come after the university has faced a barrage of criticism for its late response to the violence that occurred Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. 

Block said in the statement that the university continues to investigate the violence that was perpetrated this week, especially on Tuesday night. In a letter to the UC Board of Regents obtained by the Los Angeles Times, UC President Michael Drake called for a review of the actions of both the university and law enforcement Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

“We are carefully examining our security processes that night and I am grateful to President Drake for also calling for an investigation,” Block wrote in the statement.

Managing editor

Siatkowski is the 2023-2024 managing editor. She was previously the 2022-2023 PRIME director, the 2021-2022 PRIME content editor and a contributor for the Arts, News, Sports and Outreach sections. She is also a fourth-year communication student with a minor in information and media literacy.

Editor in chief

Friedman is the 2023-2024 editor in chief. She was previously the Copy chief and a slot editor and has also contributed to Sports on the women's golf, women's soccer and gymnastics beats. Friedman is a fourth-year public affairs student.

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.