Community leaders demand UCLA prioritize safety following protests – NBC Los Angeles

Leaders with the Jewish and American Muslim communities both believe safety should be the top concern at UCLA after the Pro-Palestinian encampment caused unrest and chaos on campus this past week.

They are demanding UCLA provide security for everyone — something they said did not happen during the protests. With five weeks left in the spring quarter, they are requesting the administration create a plan that ensures safety as students finish the academic school year.

Tensions boiled over at UCLA during the weeklong encampment that started last Thursday, where pro-Palestinian protestors dominated Royce Quad. The group called for a ceasefire in Gaza and demanded UCLA cut ties with Israel.  

After violence erupted between protestors and counter-protestors Tuesday, UCLA ultimately made the decision to cancel classes and remove what they declared was an unlawful assembly. On Thursday, officers arrested 210 Pro-Palestinian protestors, including students and staff for vandalism and trespassing misdemeanor charges.

“This is about security this is about the university enforcing its own codes of conduct,” said the American Jewish Committee LA Director Richard Hirschhaut.

A number of elected officials in Los Angeles, including Major Karen Bass, have not made any on-camera remarks since the violent altercations on the UCLA campus. NBC Los Angeles’ Alex Rozier reports.  

The American Jewish Committee, along with the Anti-Defamation League, spoke during a press conference Friday expressing their disappointment with UCLA in how they allowed the pro-Palestinian protest to disrupt campus safety and intimidate Jewish students.

“Those who violated codes of conduct violate the law they should face consequences, there are time place and manner restrictions for a reason for the safety of all students,” said the Anti-Defamation League LA Director Jeff Abrams.

Across the country on college campuses, the ADL has seen a 423% spike in antisemitic incidents since the start of the Israel-Hamas War on Oct. 7 compared to this time frame last year.

“Many, many students and faculty members have expressed to me their dismay their shock and fear and sometimes their terror of what is unfolding,” said UCLA School of Law Professor David Nimmer.

Light security measures remain on the UCLA campus a day after police cleared the protest encampment that was situated in front of Royce Hall for days. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News on May 2, 2024.

However, the Civil Rights Managing Attorney Dina Chehata for the Council on American Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR, said the protests were an opportunity for students to exercise their First Amendment rights.

“We believe the encampment was lawful and any indication these students were engaged in any sort of unlawful violent conduct is simply not justified,” said Chehata.

While pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups may not agree on the conflict in the Middle East, they do agree UCLA needs to prioritize security and clarify its protocols when it comes to keeping everyone safe.

“We don’t need every group to get along, I don’t believe there is neutrality in situations like this but what we need is for UCLA to guarantee for peaceful protestors that they guarantee them their first amendment constitutional rights freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly,” said Chehata.

“A safe and secure campus for all Bruins Jewish and non-Jewish alike, a climate free from fear, free from intimidation, free from blockades, free from violence,” said Hirschhaut.

President Joe Biden recently addressed the college protests, saying there’s a right to protest but not a right to cause chaos and went on to say it is against the law when violence or vandalism occurs. 

Images: Officers clear protest encampment at UCLA

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