California police move in to dismantle pro-Palestinian protest camp at UCLA


Hundreds of helmeted police muscled their way into a central plaza of the University of California at Los Angeles early on Thursday to dismantle a pro-Palestinian protest camp attacked the previous night by pro-Israel supporters.

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

Live TV footage showed about six protesters under arrest, kneeling on the ground, their hands bound behind their backs with zip-ties.

Dozens of loud explosions were heard during the clash from flash-bang charges, or stun grenades, fired by police.

Around sunset on Wednesday, officers in tactical gear had begun filing onto the UCLA campus and taking up positions adjacent to a complex of tents occupied by throngs of demonstrators, live footage from the scene showed.

Local television station KABC-TV estimated 300 to 500 protesters were hunkered down inside the camp, while around 2,000 more had gathered outside the barricades in support.

But the assembled police stood by on the periphery for hours before finally starting to force their way into the encampment around 3:15 am PDT (1015 GMT), tearing down barricades and arresting occupants who refused to leave. The raid was led by a phalanx of California Highway Patrol officers carrying shields and batons.

Some of the protesters had been seen donning hard hats, goggles and respirator masks in anticipation of the siege a day after the university declared the encampment unlawful.

UCLA had canceled classes for the day on Wednesday following a violent clash between the two sides.

UCLA officials said the campus, which enrolls nearly 52,000 students, including undergraduates and graduate scholars, would remain shuttered except for limited operations on Thursday and Friday.

The protests follow the October 7 attack on southern Israel by Hamas from the Gaza Strip and the ensuing Israeli offensive on the Palestinian enclave.

More from International