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Campus police union blames UCLA for encampment response

The union that represents campus police officers at the 10 University of California schools is blaming UCLA administrators for the much-criticized response to violence that broke out at the Westwood campus this week.

Federated University Police Officer’s Association said Saturday that the upcoming probe by UC President Michael 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.”

Police moved in and cleared a week-long pro-Palestinian encampment early Thursday, arresting 209 people. Most of those arrested were booked on suspicion of unlawful assembly, then released from custody with instructions to appear in court at a later date.

Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia said his office is committed to providing all arrestees with representation and support.

“At this time, we do not have information on what, if any, charges will be presented,” he said. “Nonetheless, it is essential that due process and the presumption of innocence are upheld. We will work diligently to protect the rights of our clients throughout.”

No significant injuries to protesters or the hundreds of police officers who took part in the raid were reported.

The raid came after the situation peaked overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday, when the pro-Palestinian encampment was attacked by counter- protesters supporting Israel who set of fireworks and allegedly deployed pepper spray or bear repellent. The violence prompted a cancellation of all classed at UCLA on Wednesday.

“We approached the encampment with the goal of maximizing our community members’ ability to make their voices heard on an urgent global issue,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “We had allowed it to remain in place so long as it did not jeopardize Bruins’ safety or harm our ability to carry out our mission.

“But while many of the protesters at the encampment remained peaceful, ultimately, the site became a focal point for serious violence as well as a huge disruption to our campus. Several days of violent clashes between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators put too many Bruins in harm’s way and created an environment that was completely unsafe for learning.”

Block said roughly 300 people who had been inside the campus left the area voluntarily before the mass arrests began.

The clearing of the encampment, however, gave a broader picture of the amount of damage done to the campus. The front of Royce Hall and Powell Library suffered extensive graffiti damage, some of it profane. Piles of garbage were also left behind in the former encampment area.

Cleanup crews moved into the area Thursday morning, and made relatively quick work of the garbage removal. The graffiti removal was likely to take much longer.

Campus security was also maintaining a presence on the campus, amid fears that protesters might return to the scene and try to re-establish the encampment.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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