UC Santa Barbara Sends Law Enforcement to Disband Pro-Palestine Encampment on Campus

Law enforcement sweeping the Pro-Palestine camp at UC Santa Barbara on June 23, 2024 (Photo: UCSB Liberated Zone / Instagram)
Law enforcement sweeping the Pro-Palestine camp at UC Santa Barbara on June 23, 2024 (Photo: UCSB Liberated Zone / Instagram)

Below is a message sent to the UC Santa Barbara community on June 23, 2024 regarding the encampment on campus


Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

As an academic community, we believe strongly in the principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom. Over the course of a difficult year, we sought to balance the rights to protest and exercise freedom of speech with the rights of the broader campus community to pursue our educational mission and to live, work, and learn in a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment.

After a small, unauthorized encampment was set up in May, in violation of University policies, we sought a peaceful resolution of the protest that would avoid the violence experienced on other campuses across the country. Consistent with our campus traditions, administrative officers and senior staff listened to student concerns and held meetings to respond to student and faculty questions about campus finances, research funding, investment policies, academic programs, and UC policies.

Although student demands included actions that are beyond the jurisdiction or control of the campus, that violate UC policy, and that are under the purview of the Academic Senate, we reiterated our commitment to continue and to broaden discussions about the important issues raised by students to involve all interested campus stakeholders, consistent with our democratic culture, the principles of academic freedom, and shared governance.

Since May, the number of tents, banners, and signs increased. The walls of the library and bathrooms near the tents were defaced by vandalism. Our appeals to respect the rights of the broader community and to remove signs that many in our community reported as offensive and threatening were ignored. While we respected the right to protest peacefully, the encampment became increasingly disruptive to students who were trying to pursue their educational goals, as well as faculty and staff who support the academic mission of the University. There were increased health and safety concerns. Campus and university policies, as well as federal law, require us to maintain a safe environment and workplace free from harassment and intimidation.

We offered the encampment the opportunity to voluntarily disband, but they refused. The University then made the decision to remove the unlawful encampment.

We recognize sincere and deeply held convictions about painful global events. We remain committed to dialogue, debate, and education. As a public university, the University of California welcomes scrutiny of its policies and practices. We are grateful to all the students, faculty, and staff who have worked to promote opportunities for constructive and educational conversations during this difficult year, and we will continue these conversations in the months ahead.

Our principles of community have been strained and we need to work together to restore them in a safe and tolerant environment that protects freedom of expression and supports our common academic mission.

Sincerely,

Henry T. Yang
Chancellor

David Marshall
Executive Vice Chancellor

Garry Mac Pherson
Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services


Below is a message posted on Instagram by the “UCSB Liberated Zone” with a reaction to the university after removing the encampment:  

The Last UC Encampment Swept by Militarized Police University of California, Santa Barbara

Law enforcement sweeping the Pro-Palestine camp at UC Santa Barbara on June 23, 2024 (Photo: UCSB Liberated Zone / Instagram)
Law enforcement sweeping the Pro-Palestine camp at UC Santa Barbara on June 23, 2024 (Photo: UCSB Liberated Zone / Instagram)

Monday, June 24, 2024

On the morning of June 23rd, the UCSB Liberated Zone was swept by an army of militarized police deployed by UCSB administration and the UC Regents, a state-wide governing board appointed by the Governor of California. There were a total of 5 arrests.

The UCSB Liberated Zone was the longest-running UC encampment protesting the genocide and occupation in Palestine, and one of the longest-running encampments in the United States. The camp stood for 54 days. This police escalation comes after the administration gave the camp less than 24 hours to respond to an order to voluntarily decamp. The UCSB Liberated Zone sent our list of conditions for voluntary decampment before this deadline, which was dismissed and responded with a notice calling for immediate removal from the camp due to a violation of UC policy and an illegal trespass.

At approximately 1:18 AM, police descended on students, community, and faculty who were peacefully protesting the genocide against Palestinians being committed by the state of Israel and UCSB’s complicity in this violence. Police arrived in riot gear via the east entrance of the Library and University Plaza, holding automatic weapons and “less-lethal” weaponry such as rubber bullet guns..

The police issued a first dispersal order to the encampment at 1:20 AM, giving peaceful protesters 20 minutes to disperse—the dispersal announcement threatened the use of kinetic weaponry, tear gas, and batons. Police issued three dispersal orders shortly after. Police then advanced, weapons drawn, and began their raid of the UCSB Liberated Zone.

UCPD, Santa Barbara Police Department, and the Sheriff’s Department began storming Lawn Two and Three, slashing and tearing down tents, throwing chairs, and ripping through the camp parameters and the accompanying artwork, posters, and Palestinian flags. Officers then began raiding Lawn One, kicking down the People’s Pantry, a space that has provided daily meals since May 1st for the UCSB community in a joint effort to connect the struggles of Palestinian liberation and the staggering 48% of our student body who are food insecure.

After shining a combination of floodlights and tactical flashlights with strobe light settings directly into the camp, limiting the visibility already compromised by the fog, several police officers lunged at a protester, violently grabbing them and commencing their arrest spree. Two campers, sitting down and drumming with an empty bucket, were engulfed in a sea of officers and detained. Immediately after, a Chumash community healer who was singing and sage smudging the two peaceful protestors in a ritual of protection was manhandled and detained. The final arrest was made on the perimeters of the camp after no less than a dozen officers charged students unprovoked, grabbing and detaining another protester amidst the chaos of their sudden escalation. Amongst this frenzy, we believed that a journalist from KCSB was detained, which we and others retracted soon after.

A total of five peaceful protesters from the Liberated Zone were detained and arrested for standing or sitting too close to the police line, all while being ordered not to move and threatened with physical force. The individuals were swarmed by officers who were also attempting to block the public from witnessing the arrest, including flashing strobe flashlights directly at all recording devices. Those arrested were zip-tied and brought behind the Library’s east entrance, closed off and out of sight to the crowd and journalists. These officers’ blatant attempts to hide and obstruct the recordings of the arrests of five peaceful protesters on Chumash land and public property directly violate our legal right to document the police.

The students and community members arrested were cited and released after spending 10-12 hours in custody with limited water and food. While there are no reported physical injuries, we do not yet know the psychological and spiritual effects that this egregious display of assault may induce on our community at large.

Outside of the arrests, police were seen rapidly grabbing and throwing furniture and large camping materials, snapping suspensions out of the ground and from trees, and nearly whipping multiple students in the face. This is when officers began antagonistically passing out waters taken from the People’s Pantry to their fellow officers. Sometime in this early morning, the Olive Tree of Peace that was planted in honor of martyred Palestinian children was ripped from the ground and disposed of, and our altar was destroyed. Around 3:15 AM, the UCSB Liberated Zone was entirely overtaken by police. Police showed no effort to avoid hurting students during their rampage and capitalized on intimidation tactics and threats of violence to force protestors out of the camp.. At 3:50 AM, the UCSB Liberated Zone made the tough decision to leave the area  to support our comrades unjustly arrested by police. Heavy police presence remained on campus for several hours.

All of the supplies on the encampment were intended to be donated to shelters and unhoused communities. The encampment has served as a space for unhoused community members and underserved people who have been impacted by the university-induced housing and cost-of-living crisis. These intended donations were swept and disposed of in less than two hours.

The police raid of Said Hall and the UCSB Liberated Zone further substantiates the UC’s gross investment in militarized and colonial apparatuses rather than education. While the UC postures as a site that cultivates diverse learning environments and exchange of ideas, these acts of police retaliation portray a systemic suppression of students and our larger UCSB community’s First Amendment right of freedom of speech and expression.

As of June 23rd, at least 37,598 people have been killed in Gaza, more than 15,000 being children. Another estimated 86,032 people have been injured, and more than 10,000 are still missing. There are no universities left in Gaza. The UCSB Liberated Zone is a response to the call from Gazans and Palestinians to bear witness to this genocide and demand its end. Organizers of the UCSB Liberated Zone remain committed to pressuring the university to divest from militarism, war, and the genocidal violence resulting in the murder of nearly 40,000 Palestinians in the last 262 days.

There is blood on the United States’ hands.

There is blood on Joe Biden’s hands.

There is blood on the State of California’s hands.

There is blood on Gavin Newsom’s hands.

There is blood on the University of California’s hands.

There is blood on Michael Drake’s hands.

There is blood on Rich Leib’s hands.

There is blood on Gareth Elliot’s hands.

There is blood on David Marshall’s hands.

There is blood on Nancy Greenan Hamill’s hands.

There is blood on Henry T. Yang’s hands.

There is blood on UCSB’s hands.

We stand for a Free Palestine.

Disclose. Divest. Demilitarize.

We will not stop. We will not rest.

From the river to the sea,

UCSB LIBERATED ZONE


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UCSantaBarbara

Written by UCSantaBarbara

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14 Comments

  1. CALIB – Yeah, I agree that the Pro-Palestinian protestors went too far and in doing so, lost their message. I don’t agree with this kind of protest.

    I’m just as pro-Hamas as you are pro-genocide/anti-children’s lives. Think a bit.

  2. This has been an amazing opportunity for people to be conscious and decide to interact with others in a respectful, educational and open fashion. What better place to do this than at an institution of higher learning.

    Instead we saw a total fail by all parties with a concern or interest in this conflict. We got tribalism, hate, exclusion, condemnation, and the most superficial of protests–pure Instagram activism FROM ALL SIDES. Shallow, meaningless, performative.

    Where were the rational thinkers? Where were the peacemakers? Where were the concerned faculty, community members and students willing to model what it looks like to have mutually rational discourse?

    Nowhere to be found. Everyone who was out there yelling at people should be absolutely ashamed of themselves; they achieved nothing but inflaming an already incredibly tragic and dangerous situation.

  3. I have two questions why does UCSB call the county sheriffs and tthey have their own police department shouldn’t they back up their own decisions and also please tell me why pro Haams why do they wear masks and cover their face?

  4. I don’t understand the purpose of the encampment. It seems like a big show with no benefit. I suggest they show up every morning at dawn and protest, march, have information tables, etc. But bringing in all your camping gear and having a social event seems less about the issue and more about the participants wanting to be part of an event. I know that sit-ins have proven useful in previous protests. But encampments like this seem more performative than useful. Someone tell me what I’m missing.

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