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UCLA Vows to Track Down Pro-Palestinian Encampment’s Attackers

UCLA Vows to Track Down Pro-Palestinian Encampment’s Attackers

Pro-Palestinian activists protest against the Israel-Hamas conflict on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles on April 25, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

5/7/2024

Updated: 5/7/2024

An investigation was underway May 7 into a violent attack that occurred last week targeting a pro-Palestinian encampment in UCLA’s Royce Quad, with the university calling in local and federal authorities who could be using high-tech tools in hopes of tracking down the perpetrators.
The attack was carried out by dozens of masked assailants beginning late April 30 and continuing into the early morning hours of May 1. The group set off fireworks in and around the encampment, and there were reports of pepper spray and bear repellent being deployed.
Representatives of the encampment said more than a dozen people were injured, primarily due to the exposure to pepper spray.
Police in riot gear eventually quelled the violence, but law enforcement and the university were criticized for failing to intervene more quickly, allowing the unrest to continue for several hours.
In a message to the UCLA community Monday, Chancellor Gene Block said the university remains committed to identifying the attackers. He said Chief Safety Officer Rick Braziel is leading the investigation, and the LAPD has committed a detective to the task.
Citing unnamed law enforcement sources, the Los Angeles Times reported that the investigation will include the use of facial-recognition technology, while also employing license plate readers to determine who entered the campus or was driving in the vicinity that night. The investigative tools are comparable to those used by federal authorities investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In the wake of the attacks and the next night’s law enforcement raid that cleared out the encampment and led to more than 200 arrests, Block over the weekend announced the creation of the Office of Campus Safety, with Braziel placed in charge.
Block said that office is also conducting a review of the UC Police Department’s response to the attack and an analysis of UCLA’s security protocols. It is assessing all acts of violence on campus over the past 12 days. Braziel is expected to establish additional means of protecting students, staff and visitors on campus, Block said.
“Our community members can only learn, work and thrive in an environment where they feel secure,'' Block wrote.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected officials have called for an investigation into the law enforcement response to the attack. UC President Michael Drake also said the university system would be conducting an audit of UCLA’s actions and responses to the encampment and the attack.
The union that represents campus police officers at the 10 University of California schools blamed UCLA administrators for the delayed response to the attack and other violence between counterprotesters and people at the pro-Palestinian encampment.
The Federated University Police Officers’ Association said in a statement Saturday that the probe by Drake into the university’s “planning, actions and response by law enforcement'' must consider the UC’s own guidelines for response to campus protests.
“The written guidelines for roles and responsibilities make clear that senior UC administrators on each campus are solely responsible for the university’s response to campus protests; those administrators decide the objective, and campus police are only responsible for tactics in implementing those objectives,'' FUPOA President Wade Stern said.
“As such, the UCLA administration owns all the fallout from the response and lack of response to this protest.'’
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