CORRECTION [5/23/2024 2:30 p.m.]: A previous version of this article stated that six arrests were made. This article has been updated to reflect information from the University stating that five arrests were made. This article has also been updated to reflect new information from a campus-wide statement from Chancellor Yang, and that the arrested individuals have since been released according to the UCSB Liberated Zone encampment Instagram.

Over 75 police officers swept the UCSB Liberated Zone encampment on June 23, arresting six individuals, according to encampment reports and police radio correspondence. The encampment, which was established on May 1 in solidarity with pro-Palestinian university encampments across the nation, was the last remaining UC encampment and had lasted 54 days.

Courtesy of UCSB Liberated Zone

 

For several weeks, the encampment, which consisted of dozens of students and community members, was in talks with university administration, including Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn. The group was attempting to negotiate their demands in exchange for decampment — the complete removal of encampment presence, including tents and signage, from campus. 

They asked the University to divest from military contractors, demilitarize, academically boycott Israel by terminating study abroad programs, protect free speech, name and acknowledge violence and reinvest toward undergraduate resources, including a Palestinian studies department. 

According to the UCSB Liberated Zone encampment Instagram, university administration gave the group an ultimatum on June 21 at 9:30 p.m. to either decamp and present a contingency plan — a plan to mitigate risk — by June 22 at 5 p.m. or face a forced decampment with police intervention. The day before, the encampment was told they had until 12 p.m. on June 24 to make a decision, according to the encampment’s Instagram. 

“This abrupt change in the deadline undermines the trust and good faith we have tried to maintain. It is obvious that the UC Regents want this encampment to be dismantled before Summer Session A begins,” the press release read.

Courtesy of UCSB Liberated Zone

The encampment began consolidating at the time of their response to the ultimatum, and said they would continue consolidation if Yang and Klawunn had an informal conversation with encampment participants before the decampment as well as if they agreed to issue a joint statement and press conference with the encampment and a meeting with UC Regents and other administration to discuss statewide demands. 

They also asked that an olive tree the encampment planted be preserved with an iron wrought fence and a plaque in commemoration of their protest.

For complete decampment, they demanded a work plan detailing the individuals responsible for their original demands and an agreement that meetings would continue through summer and into fall, termination of UCSB’s involvement with military contractors like Raytheon and cancellation of all punitive action, such as code of conduct violations, on staff, faculty and students, among others.

In an email to encampment participants at 6:31 p.m., Yang called upon the encampment to remove their personal items and leave immediately.

“We have sought to engage in discussions with you in the hope that our dialogue would result in an agreement that would end the encampment,” the email statement read. “We now remind you and inform you that the encampment is in violation of UC policies and an illegal trespass.”

Courtesy of UCSB Liberated Zone

In a statement to the campus community today at 3 p.m., Yang explained that the encampment “became increasingly disruptive to students who were trying to pursue their educational goals” and “there were increased health and safety concerns.” He pointed to how the number of tents, banners and signs had increased since May and instances of vandalization on the walls of the library and bathrooms near the tents. Yang said the encampment did not remove signs that were perceived as “offensive and threatening” by community members at university request. The UCSB Liberated Zone encampment said they were specifically asked to take down two large banners reading, “Globalize the Intifada” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which they claimed were “vital to Palestinian resistance.”

Yang said campus and university policies and federal law require the the campus 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,” Yang said.

Mesa Road, the Thunderdome and Highway 217 were closed off by police at around 12:30 a.m., according to UCSB Liberated Zone Media Liaison Rebecca, who wished to be identified by first name only. Sheriff deputies from the UC Santa Barbara Police Department and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO) mobilized on campus at around 12:40 a.m., surrounding the encampment on the north side of the encampment near Campbell Hall and on the west side by Buchanan Hall.

At 1:20 a.m., police announced a dispersal order, giving the group 20 minutes to clear out before facing consequences including arrests, tear gas and academic action, such as suspension or expulsion. Despite three more subsequent dispersal orders, the group remained stationed at the encampment. Protestors beat drums and chanted in support of Palestine, expressing dissent against the police.

“Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest” and “40,000 people dead, you’re arresting us instead,” the group chanted.

A UCSB Liberated Zone media liaison live-streamed police proceedings from the UCSB Liberated Zone Instagram account starting from when police arrived. Viewership peaked at 450 and several students and faculty members left comments of support for the encampment and encouraged donations to the encampment bail fund through Venmo. At least three accounts on the livestream commented pro-Israel statements and the Israel flag emoji. 

At around 1:50 a.m., police marched directly into the encampment, taking down signs and tents, starting with camps two and three — located on the far west end of the encampment. Officers dismantled the encampment food tent, dubbed the “People’s Pantry,” which housed halal and kosher food donations and fed anyone in need since the encampment’s establishment, according to Rebecca. Police distributed water bottles from the food tent amongst themselves in live stream footage.

At around 2:10 a.m., two officers physically restrained and handcuffed an encampment protestor with zip ties after a verbal altercation with police in which they refused to move from the center of the encampment. According to SBSO radio correspondence, the individual was arrested. Officers arrested three more encampment protestors, as well as allegedly two student journalists, according to the encampment livestream. However, a source from KCSB told the Nexus that KCSB journalists were not among the arrested.

While the Nexus inquired about specific information regarding the arrests and police response at the encampment, University Media Relations Manager Kiki Reyes was only able to confirm that five individuals were taken into police custody after declining to disperse.

“While most of the individuals complied with the warnings, five individuals declined to disperse and were taken into police custody. Once the tents were removed, the University resumed normal operations,” Reyes said in the statement.

At around 3 a.m., the encampment was completely cleared. Shortly after, what appeared to be two garbage disposal trucks dropped off large metal crates at the encampment. The Nexus was unable to confirm what time all police cleared from campus. 

“This clear act of police retaliation is a suppression of our first amendment rights and our shared duty as students to use our education to change the world for good,” the UCSB Liberated Zone encampment Instagram said.

According to a UCSB Liberated Zone post at approximately 5 p.m., all five of the arrested have been released from detainment. Before the notice, UCSB Liberated Zone encouraged supporters on its Instagram to ask Chancellor Henry T. Yang and UC President Michael Drake to drop the charges against those detained. They are also urging community members to contact the Santa Barbara County Jail and ask for those detained to be fed per allegations that they are “being held without food or clear release.”

In their statement to the campus community on Sunday afternoon, University administration iterated their belief in the “principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom” as an academic community. They claimed that administrative officers and senior staff listened to the campus concerns and held meetings to respond to “student and faculty questions about campus finances, research funding, investment policies, academic programs” and “UC policies,” in line with “campus traditions.” 

“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,” the statement read.

“We recognize sincere and deeply held convictions about painful global events. We remain committed to dialogue, debate, and education,” the statement continued. “As a public university, the University of California welcomes scrutiny of its policies and practices. 

“The statement expressed gratitude to students, faculty, and staff who have facilitated and engaged in “constructive and educational” conversations during the academic year.

“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.”

This is a developing story. The Nexus will continue to report on this topic as more information becomes available.

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Anushka Ghosh Dastidar
Anushka Ghosh Dastidar (she/her) is the Lead News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. Previously, Ghosh Dastidar was the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2023-24 school year and the Assistant News Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. She can be reached at anushkagd@dailynexus.com or news@dailynexus.com.
Lizzy Rager
Lizzy Rager (she/her) is the Lead News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. She can be reached at lizzyrager@dailynexus.com