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UCI Gaza Solidarity Encampment cleared by law enforcement

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The UCI Gaza Solidarity Encampment was cleared by law enforcement on Wednesday, May 15 in an hours-long standoff between police and protestors that saw multiple protestors arrested.

New University first broke the story when reporters on-site documented the encampment expanding its borders, taking over the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall in an attempt to “reclaim” the building. County and local law enforcement arrived on scene shortly thereafter.

Below is the original New University breaking report, as well as all subsequent updates in order from most to least recent. The final version of this article includes updates for grammar, clarity, and the addition of photos taken by New University photojournalists on the scene.

[5/15/24, 7:58]

At 8:26, law enforcement moved into Aldrich Park. Only a couple remaining protesters can be seen. 

Police have moved past the middle of Aldrich Park. A few protesters have been seen spotted recording them. 

Past 8:30, police have fully blocked off Aldrich Park. Their flashlights can be seen searching for any remaining protesters.

[5/15/24, 8:19 P.M.]

At 8:09, after prayer, police detained an individual. Police then made an announcement once again deeming the encampment an unlawful assembly and instructing a dispersal. 

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

At 8:10, police stood outside the Infinity Fountain. The remaining protesters dispersed. 

A zotALERT was sent at 8:13 announcing that all instruction will be remote tomorrow, May 16. It specified that protest activity remains at the Physical Sciences Quad and Aldrich Park.  

[5/15/24, 7:44 P.M.]

Multiple protesters were detained, and protesters are now in Aldrich Park. 

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

Police pushed protesters past the Infinity Fountain at 7:43. Protesters were spotted throwing water bottles at police officers. 

At 7:35, police pushed protesters entirely to the Infinity Fountain area. 

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

[5/15/24] 

At 6:46 p.m. police moved two steps toward the encampment protesters. 

“Hold the line!” an officer said through a speaker phone. 

The protesters have been pushed to the front of the stairs by Rowland Hall. 

Protesters continue to be arrested. An American flag with blood on it was seen with the protesters.

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

Before 7 p.m. a strike was authorized by UAW 4811, the union for UC academic workers and graduate students. In an email announcing the vote, the organization said that the events that occurred at UCLA on May 30 and April 1 demonstrated “egregious unfair labor practices.” 

At 7:00 p.m. police rushed into the protesters. Multiple students were arrested. A protester on a planter was grabbed by the legs and removed from the planter. 

A minute later, police again moved into the protesters. Protesters are now only occupying the space in front of Rowland Hall. 

Multiple protesters continue to be detained. A protester was pinned to the floor by multiple officers. Another screamed as officers pinned them down to the floor.

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

[5/15/24, 6:44 PM]

Protesters are using blankets, trash can lids, buckets, tents and other materials to enforce the existing barricade. They are also bringing in furniture from the quad. 

Protesters continue to shout chants as law enforcement from multiple areas stand in front of them. 

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

“Hands off students now!” said the protesters. 

Encampment protesters can be seen wearing goggles, helmets, gloves and other protective gear. 

Facilities have already begun cleaning up the debris from the encampment that has been taken down by police. Trucks have come in to carry pallets and other barricades. 

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

Police were spotted with gas masks, batons, zip ties, and weapons. One weapon was orange and marked, “NON LETHAL WEAPON.”

At 6:36 p.m. police began moving further into the encampment. Debris from the encampment was being thrown out of the way by law enforcement. They have now breached over half the quad. Police are standing past the mural students painted earlier last week. 

A protester was seen trying to grab onto a line of barricades while police were removing it.

[5/15/24, 6:18 PM]

The front barricades of the encampment are being removed by law enforcement. They have now entered the main area of the encampment. 

A hand saw is being used to remove barricades. 

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

At 6:13 p.m. police had officially broken through the encampment. Multiple protesters are being detained and handcuffed with zip ties. One protester was detained on the floor and screamed. 

“I am a tenured faculty member…they are destroying the campus in a peaceful protest. Shame on them!” The encampment protester who was pinned said.

Protesters are attempting to expand the existing barricade. 

[5/15/24, 6:04 PM]

Law enforcement moved in again at 6:04. They began removing chairs and additional barricades. Multiple encampment protesters were seen being arrested and taken away by police. Another encampment protester was pinned to the floor to be detained.

The front barricades of the encampment are being removed by law enforcement. They are now entering the main area of the encampment.

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

[5/15/24, 5:27 PM]

UCI Divest reported at 5:18 p.m. that three students have been arrested. New University cannot independently confirm that at this time.

A new zotALERT has advised individuals to vacate buildings surrounding the encampment.

[5/15/24, 5:24 PM]

Law enforcement have begun removing umbrellas, barricades and pallets surrounding the encampment.

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

[5/15/24, 4:47 PM]

A zotALERT sent out at 4:23 p.m. alerted that all classes will be canceled for the remainder of the day. UCI employees have also been instructed to work remotely starting tomorrow. 

Anteater Express shuttle services have been suspended for the day starting at 6:00 p.m. according to the @uci_anteaterexpress Instagram account.

[5/15/24, 4:03 PM]

Evacuation orders could be heard from two law enforcement helicopters spotted circling the Physical Sciences Quad. 

Law enforcement broadcasts announced that anybody within the vicinity of the encampment could be subject to arrest under penal code 409, deeming the encampment as an unlawful assembly. 

At around 3:30 p.m. protesters began to tell bystanders to leave the Physical Sciences Quad or else they pose the risk of getting arrested. They said that law enforcement are carrying batons and riot shields. 

[5/15/24, 2:54 PM]

A zotALERT sent out at 2:51 p.m. alerted the UCI community of an ongoing “Violent Protest” at the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall. Police sirens and a helicopter can currently be heard around the area.

On May 15, at around 2:30 p.m., the UCI Gaza Solidarity encampment expanded to the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall.  

The Nakba 76 rally was organized today to recognize the mass displacement of Palestinians, dubbed the Nakba in 1948.

During the rally, the crowd and students moved to the balcony of the Physical Science Lecture Hall. A protest leader claimed that they are reclaiming the building.

“We are taking this building and we are remaining here until Gillman listens to our demands and drops the suspensions,” the lead rally person said, standing on the balcony of the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall. 

The left corner of the encampment was opened to include the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall. A crowd of supporters were told to move out of the way as encampment protesters within the encampment quickly expanded and moved the barricades. 

Tents were quickly moved along with pallets and fences. Protesters ran to the lecture hall as others asked supporting members of the rally to move out of the way. 

This is a New University breaking update. Read the original breaking news alert below.

Student protestors at the Physical Sciences Quad expanded their Gaza Solidarity Encampment, moving its borders to the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall. This was in an effort to “reclaim the university,” according to a UCI Divest Instagram livestream.

This is a developing story. Follow our coverage here and on Instagram @newuniversity.

Skylar Paxton is an Opinion Apprentice. She can be reached at paxtons@uci.edu.

Laiyla Santillan is the 2023-2024 Editor in Chief. She can be reached at eic@newuniversity.org.

Mohammad “Moh” Samhouri is a 2023-2024 Managing Editor. He can be reached at manager@newuniversity.org.