UCLA cancels all classes after overnight violence on campus
Published: May 02, 2024 08:52 PM
Clashes between pro-Palestinian protesters and pro-Israel counter-protesters take place at the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in Los Angeles, California, the United States, on May 1, 2024. (Xinhua)

Clashes between pro-Palestinian protesters and pro-Israel counter-protesters take place at the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in Los Angeles, California, the United States, on May 1, 2024. (Xinhua)

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), one of the top public universities in the United States, canceled all classes for Wednesday after a night of violent clashes on campus over the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Gaza.

"Due to the distress caused by the violence that took place on Royce Quad late last night and early this morning, all classes are cancelled today," said the university in an alert to faculty, staff and students on Wednesday morning.

The university urged them to avoid the Royce Quad area and announced that Royce Hall, one of the original buildings and the defining symbol for the UCLA campus, will remain closed through Friday.

University of California President Michael Drake announced in a statement on Wednesday an "independent external review" has been ordered.

When the free expression "blocks the ability of students to learn or to express their own viewpoints, when it meaningfully disrupts the functioning of the University, or when it threatens the safety of students, or anyone else, we must act," Drake said Tuesday.

Last week, pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment of tents near Royce Hall.

Violent clashes erupted between pro-Palestinian protesters and pro-Israel counter-protesters late Tuesday night and lasted a couple of hours.

Fireworks, tear gas and fights broke out just after 10:50 p.m. Tuesday local time (0550 GMT Wednesday) and continued early Wednesday morning as around 100 pro-Israel counter-protesters attempted to seize the barricade around and storm the ongoing Palestine solidarity encampment, according to Daily Bruin, the university's student newspaper.

"The chaos comes as Chancellor Gene Block faces criticism for improper handling of the encampment and the same day the university deemed the encampment to be unlawful, threatening students inside with suspension and expulsion," reported Daily Bruin, adding that campus police and security retreated as pro-Israel counter-protesters and other groups attacked protesters in the encampment.

A participant in the encampment, who was granted anonymity for safety reasons, was quoted as saying by Daily Bruin that there were at least five injuries inside the encampment, most with eye injuries and some temporarily unresponsive.

UCLA declared on Tuesday that the encampment is "unlawful and violates university policy." Officials said that the protesters faced suspension or expulsion.

Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications, said in a midnight statement that "horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight and we immediately called law enforcement for mutual aid support. The fire department and medical personnel are on the scene."

"We are sickened by this senseless violence and it must end," Osako noted.

Local news outlets reported that protesters clashed for over two hours before law enforcement intervened.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a post on social media platform X that the violence unfolding at UCLA is "absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable."

California governor Gavin Newsom's office also said in a statement on X Tuesday night that it is closely monitoring the situation at UCLA and that law enforcement leaders are in contact while "resources are being mobilized."


Following the arrest of more than 100 student protesters last month at Columbia University in New York, pro-Palestinian demonstrations are spreading at colleges and universities across the United States.

Aside from UCLA, students at some other California colleges and universities, including Stanford University, the University of Southern California, UC Berkeley, and Sacramento State, joined the national protest. A total of 35 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, early Tuesday morning, ending a week-long occupation of buildings on the university's campus in Northern California.

The New York Police Department confirmed on Wednesday that the arrests from Tuesday night numbered 202, with 109 from Columbia University.

"We are processing the arrests to distinguish between who were actually students and who were not supposed to be on the grounds," New York Mayor Eric Adams said on Wednesday.

"In order to address the concerns of our members in an evolving campus environment, all academic activities for schools on the Morningside Heights campus will be fully remote for the remainder of the semester. Any remaining class meetings, review sessions, or office hours should be held fully remotely, and all final exams and other final assessments should be fully remote," Columbia University said in a statement.

Campus police officers at the University of Arizona in Tucson shot "chemical irritant" munitions at a gathering of protesters early Wednesday, the police said.

The university's president Robert C. Robbins had asked the campus police and school officials to "immediately enforce campus use policies and all corresponding laws," according to a statement from his office.

A total of 34 people were arrested while emptying a pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Wednesday, the university said.


Experts wonder if the arrests suppress free speech, with college presidents under the pressure of the congressional hearings. Administrators, faculty and others were being intimidated by firings and discipline to avoid discussions or protests on campus that dare use the word "ceasefire" or "genocide," said Jack Rasmus, a professor teaching economics and politics at St. Mary's College in California.

"The latest attack ... can only be described as the resurrection of 'McCarthyism' in the USA," he told Xinhua Wednesday.

It's worse than McCarthyism in the 1950s. "In the 1950s, McCarthy did not have the full support of US institutions," he said.

American youth are outraged by the "genocide policy in Gaza and the apparent unlimited support for that by the Biden administration," according to Rasmus.

The unfolding crackdown on students and American youth trying to exercise their 1st Amendment constitutional rights to free speech and assembly shows the "continuing atrophy and decline of democracy in the USA," he argued.


On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed legislation that would establish a broader definition of antisemitism for the Department of Education to enforce anti-discrimination laws.

If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would broaden the legal definition of antisemitism by including the "targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity."

The move would have a chilling effect on free speech throughout college campuses, the Associated Press said in a report, citing critics.