Fights broke out at UCLA yesterday among pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel supporters after a barrier that was meant to separate the dueling groups of demonstrators was breached.

A group called Stand With Us scheduled an 11 a.m. rally to show support for Jewish students after days of often intense pro-Palestinian protests at campuses across the United States, including at crosstown USC. The rally was co-sponsored by the United Jewish Coalition in partnership with the Israel American Council and several related organizations.

Members of the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice scheduled at 9:30 a.m. demonstration to support students’ right to protest, in response to a request from pro-Palestinian protesters at the campus.

“This morning, a group of demonstrators breached a barrier that the university had established separating two groups of protestors on our campus, resulting in physical altercations,” Mary Osako, vice chancellor of UCLA Strategic Communications, said in a statement.

“UCLA has a long history of being a place of peaceful protest, and we are heartbroken about the violence that broke out.”

“We have since instituted additional security measures and increased the numbers of our safety team members on site.

“As an institution of higher education, we stand firmly for the idea that even when we disagree, we must still engage respectfully and recognize one another’s humanity. We are dismayed that certain individuals instead chose to jeopardize the physical safety of the community.”

Fights were reported on the UCLA campus on Sunday where pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel supporters gathered.

According to the Daily Bruin, members of both groups were facing off on the lawn between Haines Hall and Kaplan Hall Sunday morning.

“Fights have broken out between protesters supporting Israel and those supporting Palestine in Dickson Plaza,” the newspaper reported at 10:57 a.m.

Among the speakers at the pro-Israel rally was Elan Carr, CEO of the Israeli American Council.

“We will take back our campuses, from Columbia to UCLA and everywhere in between,” he told the crowd, according to the Daily Bruin.

No arrests were reported as of midday Sunday.

“My team and I are closely tracking the protests at UCLA today, and are in close communication with UCLA leadership and City officials to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone on campus,” City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky posted on X.

Later in the afternoon, a phalanx of campus police entered the area to keep the groups apart. The Daily Bruin reported that the pro-Israel group had largely dispersed.

“Pro-Palestine protesters walked through campus and have now stopped between Pauley Pavilion and the Central Ticket Office,” the campus newspaper posted at 3:12 p.m. “Some have formed a human wall by the Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center to stop counter-protesters who followed the crowd.”

Counter-protesters who support Israel have responded to the ongoing pro-Palestinian demonstration on the UCLA campus. Jonathan Gonzalez reports for the NBC4 News on April 26, 2024.
A few minutes later, the newspaper reported that the pro-Palestinian demonstrators also began to disperse.

Overnight, pro-Palestinian protesters expanded their campus encampment outside to stretch from the top of the Janss Steps to the east end of Royce Hall.

The growing number of pro-Palestinian protesters has been met with an equally fervent group of counter-protesters who have played loud music near the encampment and shouted chants about Palestine preceded by an obscenity, according to the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper.

One counter-protester stomped on a Palestinian flag at the encampment while another ripped posters off the exterior of the encampment, the Daily Bruin reported.

As of Sunday morning, groups supporting the counter-protesters had raised $64,478 on GoFundMe to support Bruins for Israel, more than twice the initial $26,000 goal.

The makeshift cluster of more than 50 camping tents for the pro-Palestinian protesters began forming early Thursday and continued to grow over the weekend.

Organizers of UCLA’s “Palestine Solidarity Encampment,” similar to their counterparts at USC, issued a list of demands calling for divestment of all University of California and UCLA Foundation funds from companies tied to Israel, along with a demand that the university call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and an academic boycott by UC against Israeli universities, including a suspension of study-abroad programs.

Calling for UCLA to cut ties to Israel, pro-Palestinian demonstrators set up an encampment on campus. Christian Cazares reports for the NBC4 News on April 25, 2024.
“For 201 days, Israel has murdered, injured, starved, disappeared, displaced and kidnapped Palestinians with impunity,” according to a message posted online by organizers of the UCLA encampment, which include the UC Divest Coalition at UCLA, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace UCLA.

“For 201 days, the world has watched in silence as Israel has murdered over 30,000 Palestinians. Today, UCLA joins students across the country in demanding that our universities divest from the companies which profit off of the occupation, apartheid and genocide in Palestine. Now, more than ever, we must rise in solidarity to demand that the world centers Palestine, that the genocide is immediately ended and that our university is no longer complicit in human rights violations.”

Participants erected a makeshift wooden fence alongside the encampment and displayed signs with slogans such as “UCLA Says Free Palestine,” “Blood on the UC Hands” and “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.”

It was unclear whether all of the participants were UCLA students.

“Our top priority is always the safety and wellbeing of our entire Bruin community,” Mary Osako, vice chancellor of UCLA Strategic Communications, said in a statement Thursday morning. “We’re actively monitoring this situation to support a peaceful campus environment that respects our community’s right to free expression while minimizing disruption to our teaching and learning mission.”

As was the case over the weekend, a small group of counter-protesters, some holding Israeli flags, began gathering at the launch of the encampment on Thursday.

The day remained mostly peaceful, but early Thursday evening some brief shoving matches broke out, prompting a quick response from campus security, which worked to keep the two groups apart.

There have been no reports of injuries or arrests at the UCLA demonstrations.