— Statement —

Statement of the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics Faculty in response to the attacks on the encampment and ensuing police violence, April 30 to May 2 2024.

We, the members of the Institute for Society and Genetics, which includes both faculty members and students who were physically and violently attacked on the nights of 30 April to 1 May, condemn in the strongest possible terms both the coordinated attack on our students and the university’s failure to support our students’ right to protest peacefully and to be kept safe while doing so.  We also condemn the use of immense police force and violence the following night against these same students and faculty. 

Our faculty involved in the encampment, and others who have visited it, describe it as a model of its kind. Everyone on site was given de-escalation training and visitors reported that in every case they observed these tactics kept the camp orderly and self-disciplined. Participants made continual efforts to avoid engagement with those heckling and engaging in violence, instead maintaining focus on protesters’ core demands. As others have noted, this orderly and self-disciplined environment seemed to have the support of the university administration, which initially praised its decorum; UC and UCLA administration earned high praise for its restraint and for its clear dedication to protecting the rights of students to protest peacefully.  

This approach was reversed when on 30 April, President Drake issued a statement declaring that the encampment was “unlawful,” and Chancellor Block called it “unauthorized.” Such statements withdrew official protections from these peaceful student activities, making the students vulnerable to attack. Later that night, the campus was invaded by a violent mob of individuals including many not affiliated with the campus community. 

Faculty members in our department reported assaults of a severity we all hope never to experience, including attacking the encampment barrier with waves of physical force, spraying pepper spray at students and faculty, and throwing projectiles over the barrier.  They described students being hit in the face and body with boards, parts of the barricade and other projectiles. High power fireworks were launched into the encampment.  Many of these were felony-level assaults. Those present reported that many of the attackers were middle-aged men; some shouted white supremacist slurs; and others brandished flags linked to violent, right-wing organizations.  Proud Boys supporters and others were identified in the mix.  

Participants were horrified and confused that existing security did not seem willing to intervene and that when police arrived they appeared to do nothing to stop the violence. For hours, the assaults continued with no intervention from law enforcement charged with protecting students and faculty.  When police finally arrived many hours later, they watched the attacks, failing to come to the aid of those in the encampment.  Some who were at the scene reported that police, far from putting a halt to the violence, seemed to be marching alongside the mob. No formal emergency aid was provided to the students who were bleeding, gassed, or concussed. Throughout Wednesday, we heard many first-hand accounts of the violence and the lack of support from police and security forces.

To add insult to injury, the following night, after a widespread recognition that UC and UCLA had failed to protect students from these violent attacks, the police were nonetheless authorized to enter the encampment by force, fire tear gas and rubber bullets at students and faculty, tear down the encampment and arrest approximately 200 people (including members of our ISG community).  This stunning double assault on the protesters only compounds our anger and weakens any faith we might have in the University administration.   

At every level, this appears to us an utter and complete abdication of responsibility on the part of the University administration, Chancellor Block and President Drake.  It has left those who were present completely devoid of trust in the institution, and those who were not present bewildered and terrified.  We cannot but infer that the statements of the Chancellor (and those of President Drake) opened the way to these attacks on our community. The exemplary nature of this encampment made it a model of its kind and a target for those who oppose the free exercise of views other than their own. We demand that the Chancellor and the President be held accountable for their actions in sacrificing student safety and liberties to political expediency. 

Unfortunately, the Chancellor’s message of May 2nd, sent out in the aftermath of the expulsion, seriously misrepresented these matters. Allowing mobs to attack students and faculty on April 30 with impunity, and then calling in militarized riot police to make brutal mass arrests of students and faculty on May 2 demonstrate a failure of leadership at the highest level. As such, we call for:

  • A commitment on the part of the university to refrain from taking any disciplinary actions against encampment participants (such as suspensions and expulsions, retribution against employees);
  • Full amnesty for students, faculty, and staff who were arrested; 
  • An independent investigation into the actions of the university administration from the encampment’s founding until its destruction; 
  • A vote of no-confidence by the Academic Senate on Chancellor Gene Block;
  • University assistance to injured students through payment of medical bills;
  • A serious engagement on the part of the university with the demands of protesters on the matter of disclosure and broad divestment from military weapons production companies and systems (beginning with a committee made up of students, faculty, and staff, as several other universities, such as Rutgers, Northwestern, Brown, and Evergreen State College, have agreed to form).




Patrick Allard, Professor

Danielle Carr, Assistant Professor

Soraya de Chadarevian, Professor

Nanibaa’ Garrison, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Academic Personnel

Sally Gibbons, Lecturer

Terence Keel, Professor

Christopher Kelty, Professor

Hannah Landecker, Professor

Jessica W. Lynch, Professor and Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education

Christina Palmer, Professor

Aaron Panofsky, Professor and Director Institute for Society and Genetics

Michelle Rensel, Assistant Teaching Professor

Michael Scroggins, Lecturer

Nicholas Shapiro, Assistant Professor

Rachel Vaughn, Lecturer

Bharat Venkat, Associate Professor


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