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U.C.L.A. Students Form New Encampment While Chancellor Testifies in Congress

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U.C.L.A. Students Form New Encampment While Chancellor Testifies in Congress

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Students at the University of California, Los Angeles, formed a new pro-Palestinian encampment on Thursday while the university’s chancellor was being grilled by lawmakers in Washington over how he responded to an encampment last month.

By early afternoon, a small group of protesters had gathered in an area known as the Kerckhoff Patio and barricaded it with umbrellas, tables and slabs of wood.

Already facing pressure over its response to protests in late April, the university appeared to be taking a hard line on Thursday: Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and nearby Santa Monica Police Department arrived wearing riot helmets and carrying batons. Several police wagons were also brought to campus.

A mix of police officers and security guards stood outside the encampment, trying to prevent more people from joining it. Roughly 100 more protesters who were blocked held up signs and joined in chants. An officer declared over a loudspeaker that the encampment was an unlawful assembly, a sign that the police could be preparing to move in and clear it.

In a statement, university officials said that the demonstrators were “disrupting campus operations” because they had barricaded the patio area.

“Demonstrators have been informed that if they do not disperse, they will face arrest and possible disciplinary action, as well as an order to stay away from campus for seven days,” the officials wrote, adding that the order would apply to people whether or not they are affiliated with the university.

“We’re back,” U.C.L.A.’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine wrote in an Instagram post earlier on Thursday, calling the new demonstration “Encampment 2.0.”

U.C.L.A.’s chancellor, Gene D. Block, was among three university leaders to testify on Thursday before a House committee investigating antisemitism on campuses. He was criticized for not clearing the encampment in April sooner, and for not protecting students when they were attacked by a group of pro-Israel counterprotesters. The police ultimately cleared that encampment, arresting more than 200 pro-Palestinian protesters in early May.

The university’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter said in a statement that the congressional hearing was “a textbook example of political theater” that conflated “calls for Palestinian liberation with antisemitism” in an effort to curb pro-Palestinian movements. It condemned what it described as a “McCarthyist” effort to censor protesters.

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