Students told to ‘shelter in place’ as pro-Hamas mob storms campus

Anti-Israel protesters occupied the science building at UC Irvine this Wednesday, prompting the school to issue a “shelter in place” order.

The “protest” began around 2:30 pm, when the protesters “entered the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall on the UC Irvine campus and began surrounding the building,” according to university officials.

“The building takeover was broadcast live on Instagram by several pro-Palestinian accounts,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “The videos showed a hectic scene as students clad in kaffiyehs ran to and from the area by the lecture hall, setting up a wooden fence barrier, tents, signs and other materials.”

The protesters reportedly commandeered the building in retaliation for the school suspending a member of their negotiating team.

“They forced our hand,” an anonymous protester told the Times.

“This cause is way bigger than any of us,” another protester, Sarah Khalil, said.

The school eventually labeled the protest a “violent protest” and called in multiple law enforcement agencies to forcefully remove the students and also clear out a nearby two-week-old encampment.

“The police have retaken the lecture hall,” UC Irvine spokesperson Tom Vasich later told The Jerusalem Post by phone. “The plaza has been cleared by law-enforcement officers.”

The school also cancelled classes for the day and urged non-protesting students to “shelter in place.”

After everything died down, school Chancellor Howard Gillman slammed the protesters in a statement.

“What a sad day for our university — I’m brokenhearted,” he said. “After weeks when the encampers assured our community that they were committed to maintaining a peaceful and nondisruptive encampment, it was terrible to see that they would dramatically alter the situation in a way that was a direct assault on the rights of other students and the university mission.”

What had happened, according to Gillman, is that the students at the two-week-old encampment had chosen to move “in a coordinated fashion … out of the encampment to the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall, where a small group barricaded themselves in, supported by a large group of community members who had gathered for a scheduled rally.”

He added that he’d been prepared to let the encampment continue undisturbed up until the protesters pulled this stunt.

“I was prepared to allow a peaceful encampment to exist on the campus without resorting to police intervention, even though the encampment violated our policies and the existence of the encampment was a matter of great distress to other members of our community,” he said.

“I communicated that if there were violations of our rules we would address them through the normal administrative policies of the university and not through police action,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan, an immigrant woman, responded quite differently to the disruptive protest.

“It’s a shame that peaceful free speech protests are always responded to with violence,” she tweeted late Wednesday. “Taking space on campus or in a building is not a threat to anyone. UCI leadership must do everything they can to avoid creating a violent scenario here. These are your students w/ zero weapons.”

Her post was subsequently ratioed by an army of people pointing out that commandeering a building isn’t a “peaceful free speech protest.”


Vivek Saxena


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