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Investigan underway into violent attack at UCLA


Mob attacks pro-Palestinian encampment

An investigation was underway this week into a violent attack that occurred last week targeting a pro-Palestinian encampment in UCLA's Royce Quad, with the university calling in local and federal law enforcement agencies who could be using high-tech detective tools in hopes of tracking down the perpetrators.

The attack was carried out by dozens of masked assailants beginning late April 30 and continuing into the early morning hours of May 1. The group set off fireworks that detonated in and around the encampment, and there were reports of pepper spray and bear repellent being deployed.

Representatives of the Palestinian encampment said more than a dozen people were injured, primarily due to the exposure to pepper spray.

Police in riot gear eventually quelled the violence, but law enforcement and the university were criticized for failing to intervene more quickly, allowing the unrest to continue for several hours.

In a message to the UCLA community Monday, Chancellor Gene Block said the university remains committed to identifying those who carried out the attack.

“To that end, inaugural Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Safety Officer Rick Braziel is leading a law enforcement investigation to identify the perpetrators of the violence and hold them to account,'' Block said. “The LAPD has committed a detective to assist in our investigative efforts, and we have also connected with the FBI about possible assistance. We have spoken to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón to solicit his help in ensuring that the instigators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.''

Citing unnamed law enforcement sources, the Los Angeles Times reported that the investigation will include the use of facial-recognition technology, while also employing license plate readers to determine who entered the campus or was driving in the vicinity that night. The investigative tools being employed are comparable to those used by federal authorities investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“AVC Braziel and I have directed UCPD to invest whatever resources are needed to conduct a rapid and thorough investigation into the violent attack,'' Block wrote in his notice. “UCPD is currently reviewing all available footage from last Tuesday night and speaking to witnesses who were present. We urge anyone who saw the violence firsthand or who has information about the attack to report it as soon as possible.''

In the wake of the attacks and the next night's law enforcement raid that cleared out the encampment and led to more than 200 arrests, Block over the weekend announced the creation of the Office of Campus Safety, with Braziel placed in charge of the operation.

Block said that office is also conducting a review of the UC Police Department's response to the attack and conducting an analysis of UCLA's security protocols. It is assessing all acts of violence that have occurred on campus over the past 12 days. Braziel is expected to create a plan to put in place to establish additional means of protecting students, staff and visitors on campus, Block said.

“Holding the instigators of this attack accountable and enhancing our campus safety operations are both critical. Our community members can only learn, work and thrive in an environment where they feel secure,'' Block wrote.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected officials have called for an investigation into the law enforcement response to the attack on the encampment. UC President Michael Drake also said the university system would be conducting an audit of UCLA's actions and responses to the encampment and the attack.