At U.C.L.A., Protesters Briefly Form Encampment and Occupy Building Before Police Move In


Pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the University of California, Los Angeles, briefly formed a new encampment and then took over a campus building on Thursday before police officers in riot gear moved in to disband the efforts.

The protests, which drew hundreds of people, came on the same day that the U.C.L.A. chancellor was grilled in a hearing on Capitol Hill over his handling of a similar encampment last month.

By the afternoon, about 70 protesters had entered Dodd Hall, an academic building, sealing off doors with computer cables and jackets. One protester, speaking into a megaphone, asked anyone not affiliated with U.C.L.A. to leave and acknowledged the ad hoc nature of the protest: “We’re building this plane as we fly it.”

But just a few hours after the protesters had gotten inside, police officers in riot gear barged in and cleared the building — a contrast to what Republicans lawmakers criticized as a slow response to the demonstrations in late April.

Protesters had initially set up a small encampment earlier on Thursday in an area known as the Kerckhoff Patio, but quickly abandoned it after officers wearing helmets and carrying batons moved in. The protesters then fled to an area by Murphy Hall, amassing about 300 people at one point, and then some eventually moved into Dodd Hall.

In recent weeks, student activists have been calling on the university to divest from companies that they view as enabling Israel’s war in Gaza. Their demonstration in April was one of the most high-profile campus protests this year. More than 200 protesters were arrested after a group of pro-Israel counterprotesters attacked the encampment. None of the counterprotesters have been apprehended.

Thursday’s protests were short-lived and relatively calm, as the police moved in quickly and students fled. The university said that it was not aware of the police making any arrests.

In a statement, university officials said that the demonstrators were “disrupting campus operations” because they had blocked off a part of campus.

“Demonstrators have been informed that if they do not disperse, they will face arrest and possible disciplinary action, as well as an order to stay away from campus for seven days,” the officials wrote, adding that the order would apply to anyone, regardless of university affiliation.

Thursday’s actions came as U.C.L.A.’s chancellor, Gene D. Block, and the leaders of Northwestern and Rutgers testified before a Republican-led House committee about allegations of antisemitism on their campuses. Dr. Block defended his university’s response to the April encampment, but also said that he was concerned about the rise of antisemitism on campuses across the country.

“With the benefit of hindsight, we should have been prepared to immediately remove the encampment if and when the safety of our community was put at risk,” said Dr. Block, who is set to step down as chancellor at the end of July.

He faced tough questioning from Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, who demanded to know why none of the counterprotesters who attacked the pro-Palestinian camp last month had been arrested. Dr. Block said that the university was investigating the attack.

The U.C.L.A. chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine said the hearing was “a textbook example of political theater” that conflated “calls for Palestinian liberation with antisemitism” in an effort to curb pro-Palestinian movements. It condemned what it described as a “McCarthyist” effort to censor protesters.

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