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Mayor Supports Students’ Right to ‘Peacefully Assemble and Protest’ at UC Irvine

Mayor Supports Students’ Right to ‘Peacefully Assemble and Protest’ at UC Irvine

Pro-Palestinian protesters at the intersection of Campus Drive and W. Peltason Drive near the University of California–Irvine in Irvine, Calif., on April 29, 2024. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

4/30/2024

Updated: 5/1/2024

An encampment of pro-Palestinian supporters formed April 29 is still holding strong at the University of California–Irvine with an estimated 60 students and others occupying tents near the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall.
Law enforcement have been asked to not intervene by Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan, who remained on campus all day April 29 as more than 100 surrounded the encampment.
“I am asking our law enforcement to stand down,” Mayor Khan said. “I will not tolerate any violations to our students’ rights to peacefully assemble and protest.”
About 100 pro-Palestinian protestors gather at the University of California–Irvine in Irvine, Calif., on April 29, 2024. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

About 100 pro-Palestinian protestors gather at the University of California–Irvine in Irvine, Calif., on April 29, 2024. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

(L-R) Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan, Ayesha Kamran, and a pro-Palestinian demonstrator at a protest at the University of California–Irvine in Irvine, Calif., on April 29, 2024. (Courtesy of Ayesha Kamran)

(L-R) Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan, Ayesha Kamran, and a pro-Palestinian demonstrator at a protest at the University of California–Irvine in Irvine, Calif., on April 29, 2024. (Courtesy of Ayesha Kamran)

Campus police were joined in a nearby parking lot by those from the Costa Mesa Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department by mid-afternoon Monday.
A small demonstration of about 10 protestors at the intersection of Campus Drive and W. Peltason Drive, adjacent to the campus theater, formed for several hours in the afternoon. Private guards were parked in a nearby parking lot ensuring retail spots were not used by protesters, a guard confirmed to The Epoch Times.
On campus, about 14 tents and an estimated 60 students occupy the encampment as of Tuesday afternoon, according to UC Irvine spokesman Tom Vasich, who said as many as 100 students were present Monday, prompting campus police to ask for help from sheriff’s deputies.
University officials said in a statement the right for students to protest, and everyone’s safety was paramount.
“UC Irvine respects the rights of any students to engage in free speech and expression including lawful protest. The safety of all members of the campus community is always a top priority, and we continue to monitor and evaluate the situation to ensure that we are able to continue to provide a safe and secure learning environment,” the statement read.
One student who asked to remain anonymous said he was neither for nor against the protest but hoped students could consider how their time is spent, and to what effect the demonstration would have.
“I support that they’re able to do this. But … instead of focusing on such twisted events, I’d much rather [students] focus on their relationship with God,” he said. “Because that focuses on not only bettering our lives but also seeking something in the future that allows us to persevere through our lives.”
Officers from Costa Mesa and UCI Police departments standing by on campus at a pro-Palestinian protest on April 29, 2024. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

Officers from Costa Mesa and UCI Police departments standing by on campus at a pro-Palestinian protest on April 29, 2024. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

A pro-Palestinian protest at the University of California–Irvine in Irvine, Calif., on April 29, 2024. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

A pro-Palestinian protest at the University of California–Irvine in Irvine, Calif., on April 29, 2024. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

According to large signs displayed near the encampment, protestors are asking for the school to grant “amnesty” for all student participants, boycott Israel academically, remove “Zionist programming” from the school’s curriculum, and stop receiving funding from the federal government’s “Countering Violent Extremism” program. The program provides local governments, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education with funds to “establish or enhance capabilities to prevent targeted violence and terrorism,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Students at the encampment declined an interview with The Epoch Times.
A spokesperson for the school wasn’t immediately available to comment.
Recent local encampments have also formed at the University of California’s Los Angeles and Riverside campuses, as well as at the University of Southern California (USC), where nearly 100 students were arrested by the police April 24. USC officials announced last week the cancellation of its main stage commencement ceremony in May, because of fear of possible violence.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

Author

Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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