Officers remove pro-Palestinian encampment at UC Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Students on the UCSB campus in Santa Barbara as some students face a statewide student housing crisis. Some UC Santa Barbara students are forced to live in vehicles and hotels under temporary contracts due to expire next month. The crisis led the campus to move forward with a plan to build a massive 4,500-bed dorm with tiny rooms and few windows - dubbed "Dormzilla" - which sparked widespread student protests, national headlines and the resignation of the consulting architect. UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 in Santa Barbara, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times).
Students on the UC Santa Barbara campus in 2021. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Dozens of officers removed an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters from the campus of UC Santa Barbara early Sunday morning, according to videos and social media posts by the protest group.

University officials had sent a message to the group, which calls itself the UCSB Liberated Zone, that the encampment violated university policies and that the protesters were illegally trespassing.

According to the group’s posts on Instagram, dozens of officers arrived on campus shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday morning. The police “gave four dispersal notices to campers and then began moving into the encampment,” the protest group said.

Later video shows workers throwing tents into a large garbage truck.

Five protesters were arrested and booked for unlawful assembly, Santa Barbara County sheriff's officials said. All of the demonstrators have since been released.

In a statement Sunday, Chancellor Henry T. Yang said the university had offered the protesters the opportunity to voluntarily disband and remove the encampment, but they refused.

"Since May, the number of tents, banners, and signs increased. The walls of the library and bathrooms near the tents were defaced by vandalism," Yang said. "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," he continued. "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."

In April, hundreds of protesters occupied the university's student resources building for a daylong series of workshops, art projects and other actions to express solidarity with Palestinians, call for a cease-fire and demand an end to Israel-related investments. Demonstrators set up encampments in May.

Sunday's police operation was the latest following weeks of protests by pro-Palestinian demonstrators at universities throughout the country.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.