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UCLA, USC Face Lawsuits by Jewish Student, Faculty Member After Protests

UCLA, USC Face Lawsuits by Jewish Student, Faculty Member After Protests

Pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian supporters confront each other separated by metal barriers surrounding the encampment of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) as protests continue against the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza in Los Angeles on April 26, 2024. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

5/14/2024

Updated: 5/15/2024

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The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) faced lawsuits this week after Jewish students and faculty claimed administrators failed to protect them during recent pro-Palestinian protests.
The Jewish student sued UCLA officials May 13 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging civil rights violations, negligence, assault and battery, and breach of contract.
Her lawsuit, filed by Los Angeles attorney Michael Reznick, asks the court for an order barring the creation and sponsoring of a “dangerous condition” at the campus.
The class-action suit claims UCLA’s Jewish students and faculty members want to be “safe and free from campus terrorism and anti-Semitism” and free from other harm, including assault and battery.
Mr. Reznick planned to file a similar lawsuit against USC on Tuesday on behalf of a Jewish tenured professor who doesn’t want to be identified, he said.
The lawsuits seek money for damages, but that isn’t the main goal, according to Mr. Reznick. His clients want to stop the anti-Semitism, he said.
“My clients aren’t thinking about compensation,” Mr. Reznick told The Epoch Times. “They want peace and security. They want to go to school, they want commencement. And they can’t have that because of what’s going on at the universities.”
Other students and faculty at UCLA or USC can join the lawsuits, said Mr. Reznick.
UCLA’s student protest started April 26, following the collapse of a similar demonstration at its crosstown rival USC. The protest ended nearly a week later.
The lawsuit filed by the student claims the protest was enabled by the university and held under the university’s “watchful eyes” to an extent that Jewish students and faculty were “fearful for their lives and safety” and could not go into the town square or anywhere else on campus without being verbally or physically assaulted by the protesters, according to the court filing.
The student also claims faculty members offered extra credit and better grades to those who participated in the protests, with the university’s knowledge and consent.
The student, who expects to graduate this year from UCLA, told Corona del Mar High School’s student newspaper Trident Online she didn’t think the protests were peaceful, and made Jewish students feel unsafe on campus.
“The protests and encampments at UCLA were deemed ‘mostly peaceful’ by the administration, but I don’t think they are peaceful,” she told the student newspaper on May 4. “There have been multiple instances of assaults against Jewish/Israeli protesters. Today at the rally, they barricaded us.”
She also kept a diary of incidents at the school that occurred as anti-Israel sentiment began to stir following the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel. Her diary details several anti-Semitic incidents that she claims happened in class and on campus.
In one instance on March 30, a large figure of a pig depicting Jews and Zionists was placed near the entrance of one of UCLA’s engineering buildings, according to the student.
The student described an event on Oct. 13 when a professor of gender studies offered a lecture students could attend for extra credit called “The Genocidal Assault on Palestine.”
Law enforcement officers were called to the campus twice but not before Jewish students were attacked and barred from certain places at UCLA.
The first call was in the early morning hours of May 1 in response to an hours-long brawl that broke out between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups. At least 15 people were injured during the fight, but police made no arrests and the encampment was allowed to continue its blockade of Royce Quad.
The students and protesters also vandalized Royce Hall, spray painting anti-Semitic slogans and pro-Gaza images on the walls.
During the second response later that day, 210 protesters were arrested and faced misdemeanor charges of failing to disperse. No officers or protesters were injured, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The protesters reportedly blocked some Jewish students from entering certain parts of campus, including the university’s library, as they tried to study for their midterms, according to news reports.
Another Jewish student from Pierce College in Woodland Hills went to UCLA as the protest continued on April 29, to “stand and be there for Israel,” according to a report by NBC 4.
Eleanor, who asked NBC 4 not to use her last name, said she told the news station she was kicked and stepped on after trying to get an Israeli flag that was dropped. Her head slammed into the ground, her mother said.
The pro-Palestinian protest that started April 24 was squashed early at USC by campus police and outside law enforcement. A group calling itself the USC Divest From Death Coalition took over Alumni Park in the heart of the campus, setting up tents and demanding that the school divest from Israeli companies.
USC canceled its main graduation ceremony after nearly 100 protesters were arrested. Smaller ceremonies around the campus were held May 10.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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