Dozens of police officers form a line keeping students from accessing the dismantles campsite formerly occupied by Gaza protestors.

This story was updated May 31 at 6:00 p.m.

UC Santa Cruz Police called upon law enforcement agencies from several jurisdictions from across the state early Friday morning to dismantle a pro-Palestine encampment and secure the entrance of campus, where roughly 100 students were protesting the Gaza-Israel war.

As of Friday afternoon, 80 protestors had been detained.

Police enforced a hard closure on High Street at Moore Street, not letting anyone pass, as well as at the university’s other entrances. Santa Cruz Police, California Highway Patrol, San Francisco Police and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office were among the agencies that assisted UC Santa Cruz Police in the dispersals and arrests.

Police from numerous agencies were on the UCSC campus Todd Guild/The Pajaronian

Students at the scene said that authorities began arriving en masse around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, after which the UCSC chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (UCSC SJP) made a call for support through its Instagram page.

Soon, hundreds of students descended on and packed the area, arriving through a discreet pathway from Nobel Drive.

Around midnight, police began dismantling the tents by smashing them to the ground, students said.

“They ripped through the camp and destroyed whatever tents and belongings they could find,” said a media liaison from the encampment who called herself “Savvy.”

“We are peaceful protestors, but still they feel the need to be in complete riot gear with guns and batons pointed at us,” Savvy said. “We will hold here for as long as we can and show the police and the university that we are not backing down and there is nothing they can do to scare us away from this movement.”

Police ordered students to disperse over a loudspeaker, telling them that their occupation of the parking lot was unauthorized and that they risked arrest by remaining.

The students chanted that they were not afraid, and that they were not going to back down from the line of dozens of law enforcement officials in body armor, carrying police batons.

Dozens of students were arrested, according to a police officer who was not authorized to speak on the issue. As of Friday afternoon, 80 protestors had been detained. Three faculty members were alleged to have also been arrested, although their names could not be confirmed at this time.

According to Rebecca Gross, United Auto Workers (UAW) unit chair, one of those arrests involved a physical altercation, with the protestor being grabbed by the neck.

A police officer in the flattened tent city looks up at a protestor who had scaled the barn adjacent to the parking lot. Todd Guild/The Pajaronian

University of California President Michael V. Drake released a statement Friday afternoon addressing the administration’s reasoning for the crackdown.

“For the past week, individuals including UC employees represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) and others protesting the war in Israel and Gaza have intermittently blocked the only two campus entrances and exits at UC Santa Cruz. At various points, members of the campus community have been prevented from entering campus and significantly impeded from exiting it. This resulted in delayed access for emergency personnel and vehicles; childcare challenges for staff, faculty, and students; missed medical appointments; and difficulty accessing jobs, classes, and other educational, health care, and student support facilities and services on campus. In one especially disturbing case, on Tuesday an emergency medical vehicle was prevented from accessing a facility in which a toddler was in distress,” Drake said.

Savvy said that the law enforcement action came as no surprise, and will not dissuade the ongoing protest.

“We are not going to be giving up, giving up our camp or giving in to police pressure,” she said. “It’s definitely a great loss losing this community, but that doesn’t mean that this fight is over.”

The lines of police officers and protestors drew closer as the morning drew on. Todd Guild/The Pajaronian

College campus protests in support of Gaza and Palestine have erupted nationwide, calling for a ceasefire and that universities divest from companies with ties to Israel. As Israel’s response to the October 7 attack continues, the death toll has risen to over 36,000 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Hamas attack left 1,200 dead and over 200 people were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

A student calling himself Two Triops said he has been coming out to support the campers.

“I think there is an obvious need for a disclosure of where they are sending our money, and I think we need a public statement,” he said. “And I think it’s shameful to have our chancellor and our regents condemning us the students for standing up for something and not the atrocity itself.”

University spokesperson Hernandez-Jason said in a statement that restoring full access to the campus is “imperative,” and that the demonstrators have delayed access of emergency vehicles. 

“It was impossible to do so without law enforcement intervention,” he said. “These actions could have been avoided if the encampment participants heeded the many previous directives that were given by campus officials, fire marshals, and law enforcement.”

Catch and Release

By late Friday morning, protestors who were booked into Santa Cruz County Jail began to be released from the downtown facility.

By 11:00 a.m., UAW members and supporters had set up food and water stations on tables outside the main jail, surrounded by yellow caution tape strung by jail officials. The Water Street vehicle entrance was also cordoned off.

A UCSC graduate student on the scene that had just been released spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity. She is a UAW member and described her arrest. She said that that police pushed forward in a line, coming face-to-face with protestors.

“People had formed a barricade in front of our line and there’s cops in riot gear and they started pointing their guns at people,” she said.

She wasn’t sure whether the weapons were loaded with rubber bullets or other ammunition.

Eventually, police started separating protestors that had linked arms, she said, and she was arrested soon after. Detainees were then loaded onto vans and taken to the main jail.

By noon on Friday, most of the protestors booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail had been released. The rest of the arrested protestors were being held across town at the UCSC Westside Research Park.

At around 1:00 p.m., the premises near the back entrance of the research park on Natural Bridges Drive was filled with supporters waiting for protestors to be released. Various tents with medical supplies, food and water were erected, and one tent was playing anti-police themed music from a PA system.

A Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office bus is seen at the intersection of Bay and High streets near the UCSC entrance on Friday, May 31. PHOTO: William S. Woodhams.

Dozens of supporters surrounded the doors to the building, waiting for arrested protestors as they were released one by one. Every time someone walked out through the doors, the crowd erupted in cheers.

A second-year UCSC students that goes by the name “AK” was one of the demonstrators released from the research park site. He said that he joined the protest at around midnight Thursday, heeding the social media call from SJP.

He said he was arrested after attempting to film another demonstrator being violently thrown to the ground by police. He was released with a citation from UCSC Police for unlawful trespassing and resisting arrest.

Rebecca Gross said that the UAW supports amnesty for protestors. The UAW is on strike now at six UC campuses. 

Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian Over 200 pro-Palestinian protesters gather at the entrance to the UC Santa Cruz campus Friday afternoon to protest Israel’s war on Gaza.

“We also want them [protestors] to know that workers on this campus are very much invested in striking until amnesty is achieved for protestors,” said Gross.

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  1. Students should be able to PROTEST without these college trumpdump supporters in charge sending the police to attack them! There are more important things than graduation ceremonies. Just because a student did 4 years of schoolwork does not mean they’re more important than the millions of Palestinians being attacked and killed by Israel. I once went out on a date a Jewish man so I’m not an antisemite either.

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    • Hahahaha! What does Trump have to do with it? You sound much like a former Cabrillo Trustee who was disgraced for his anti American rants on social media.
      I’m glad he is history! 🇺🇸 God Bless America!

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      • Looks like the Cabrillo trustee didn’t learn his lesson. Here comes Steve Trujillo with his TDS again.

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  2. This is exactly what the students were hoping for all along. It’s been all over social media. Now they get their wish.

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  3. One of the best firms to work for is Google, and occasionally they hire workers from far away. sp Go to the Google Careers area and select the “Work” interface. All you have to do to win money is work directly with this company.Within this user interface

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  4. Most of the protesters know little of the history of Gaza.
    Most couldn’t locate it on a map.
    Are any of them demanding the release of the hostages that haven’t been butchered or raped to death yet???

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