Reactions From Local Authorities About the Violent Attacks April 30 at UCLA

Condemnation for the Incident and How it Was Handled Pour In

After the terrifying events on the night and early morning of April 30 and May 1, many California

leaders issued statements regarding the violent acts committed by the counter-protesters and agitators against the students of the Gaza Solidarity Encampment and journalists, including this reporter. 

Mayor Karen Bass issued the following statement:

“This morning, I met in person with LAPD, LASD, CHP, CalOES, UCPD, and other regional agencies at the UCLA incident command post about the absolutely detestable violence on campus last night. LAPD is supporting regional law enforcement on the next steps to ensure our students and campus are safe. 

“There must be a full investigation into what occurred on campus last night. Those involved in launching fireworks at other people, spraying chemicals, and physically assaulting others will be found, arrested, and prosecuted, as well as anyone involved in any form of violence or lawlessness. 

“I want to make sure the message I delivered to law enforcement and other officials earlier today is clear: Free speech will be protected. Violence and bigotry will not.

“I have spoken with Governor Newsom and want to thank him for his continued support.”

Governor Newsom issued a statement on the violence at the University of California Los Angeles on social media, which read,” I condemn the violence at UCLA last night. The law is clear: The right to free speech does not extend to inciting violence, vandalism, or lawlessness on campus. Those who engage in illegal behavior must be held accountable for their actions – including through criminal prosecution, suspension, or expulsion.”

California State Assemblymember and UCLA Bruin Isaac G. Bryan responded on Twitter, “What UCLA students and Daily Bruin journalists experienced in the encampment last night is unlike anything I’ve ever seen at a demonstration.

It was not a counter-protest. It was not peaceful. It was violently unacceptable in every possible way.”

California District 51 Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur sent a statement out on social media that said, “The horrific acts of violence against UCLA students and demonstrators that occurred on campus last night are abhorrent and have no place in Los Angeles or in our democracy. No matter how strongly one may disagree with or be offended by the anti-Israel demonstrators’ messages, tactics, or goals, violence is never acceptable, and those responsible must be held accountable.

For days, I have been requesting increased security on campus after my staff, and I witnessed rising tensions between demonstrators and counter-protestors, and ourselves felt unsafe on campus. I have pled with the UCLA Administration to take the necessary steps to protect students from violence, harassment, and intimidation.

Yesterday, my staff witnessed the violent assault of a Jewish student on campus, just one of many antisemitic incidents that have occurred in the last week and in recent months. Hours later, a violent mob attacked protestors at the encampment with fireworks, pepper spray, and blunt objects, reportedly injuring students and reporters. In both instances, University security failed to prevent the assaults or respond in a timely manner, despite Chancellor Block’s assurances of adequate security on campus.

While we continue to gather all the facts, one thing is abundantly clear: the UCLA Administration has failed in their most important duty — to protect the safety, wellbeing, and civil rights of all students on campus.”

LA District 5 Councilmember Katy Young Yaroslavsky posted a statement on social media that read, “Everyone has a right to free speech and protest, but the situation on UCLA’s campus is out of control and is no longer safe. I’m grateful to LAPD and Mayor Bass for stepping in to ensure the safety of everyone on campus.”

In response to last night’s violent attacks on UCLA students protesting the mass killings in Gaza, the State Director of the California Working Families Party, Jane Kim, issues the following statement:

“Last night, UCLA and the city of Los Angeles unequivocally failed in their duty to protect their students exercising their First Amendment right. Students engaging in a Free Palestine Solidarity Encampment were brutally assaulted – enduring pepper spray and the terror of fireworks hurled into their tents, all without any semblance of protection. The reprehensible lack of safeguarding during this assault is unacceptable.

“The UCLA administration and leadership must denounce this abhorrent act of violence and outline decisive measures to ensure the safety of students engaging in peaceful protest. 

“Throughout history, students and young people in California have been at the forefront of transformative protest movements- fearlessly challenging entrenched power structures and amplifying the voice of our collective conscience. Even when our leaders have faltered, our students have stood firm, driving positive change.

“We stand in solidarity with students on campuses nationwide who are courageously protesting to end the atrocities in Gaza.”

District 3 Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Lindsey Horvath stated on May 1, on social media, “The violence that occurred overnight at UCLA is unacceptable. I am in close contact with/ UCLA administrators, the LA County Office of Emergency Management, and Sheriff Luna, and I am working to convene leaders to find lasting solutions for all.

For safety to truly be a priority, we must take thoughtful and appropriate steps to protect it. The UCLA community deserves nothing less.”

Chancellor Gene Block shared the following message with the campus community on May 1. 

Dear Bruin Community:

Late last night, a group of instigators came to Royce Quad to forcefully attack the encampment that has been established there to advocate for Palestinian rights. Physical violence ensued, and our campus requested support from external law enforcement agencies to help end this appalling assault, quell the fighting, and protect our community.

However one feels about the encampment, this attack on our students, faculty, and community members was utterly unacceptable. It has shaken our campus to its core and — adding to other abhorrent incidents that we have witnessed and that have circulated on social media over the past several days — further damaged our community’s sense of security.

I want to express my sincere sympathy to those who were injured last night and to all those who have been harmed or have feared for their safety in recent days. No one at this university should have to encounter such violence. Our student affairs team has been reaching out to affected individuals and groups to offer support and connections to health and mental health resources. 

I also want to acknowledge the trauma and heartache this has brought to our full campus. Resources are available to students through the Student Affairs website and Counseling & Psychological Services, as well as to employees through the Staff & Faculty Counseling Center.

We are still gathering information about the attack on the encampment last night, and I can assure you that we will conduct a thorough investigation that may lead to arrests, expulsions, and dismissals. We are also carefully examining our own security processes in light of recent events. To help in these efforts, I urge those who have experienced violence to report what they encountered to UCPD, and those who have faced discrimination to contact the Civil Rights Office. We are grateful for the support of law enforcement and their efforts to investigate these incidents.

The Federated University Police Officers’ Association (“FUPOA”) issued the following statement regarding the campus police response to the violence we witnessed at the encampments. 

The officers of the ten UC Police Departments are obligated to follow the direction of the leadership of the various campuses. We welcome UC President Michael Drake’s upcoming probe into the “university’s planning, its actions and the response by law enforcement.”  

In the University of California system, the Police Departments on each campus are entrusted with the critical responsibility of maintaining law and order. However, it’s paramount to recognize that when protests erupt on campus, the decisions regarding the response of the UC Police rest firmly in the hands of campus leadership. They shoulder the accountability for the outcomes stemming from these decisions, not the UC Police Department. It underscores the crucial distinction between operational execution and strategic direction.

The campus leadership, not law enforcement, owns the results of their decisions.

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