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Encampment Fact Sheet

Official Notices

Demonstrated Support for Free Expression: Since October 2023, UC San Diego has supported 27 major campus free expression events with staff monitors, hired security guards, and campus police, ranging from a dozen participants to 2,000+ participants. No major incidents were reported at these peaceful and legal protests.

May 1 Encampment

  • Students and non-affiliates erected a camp in the lawn adjacent to the Student Health and Wellness Building near Library Walk on May 1, 2024. Construction took approximately 20 minutes. Camp supplies had been stored in student organization offices at the Price Center.
  • Within minutes, university representatives from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life hand-delivered notecards to participants explaining free expression rights and rules for campus and relevant state laws, including those for non-affiliates. Student Affairs staff members talked with participants individually, stating that the camp was illegal, and encouraging them to leave the site immediately. During this initial discussion, a liaison was identified. A request was made of the liaison to provide a safety plan for those in the encampment as well as plans for sanitation, food, water before the end of day. The liaison shared that they did not speak on behalf of the collective and could not provide the safety plan to SAMs immediately but that a safety plan was being developed.
  • At 6 pm, no safety plan was provided but it was agreed that the encampment would not grow in size, would not impede access along Library Walk, and would ensure that sanitation needs would be served through bathrooms at Center Hall.
  • Liaison asked SAM what the Campus was doing to ensure the encampment’s safety to ensure that the violence that happened at UCLA would not happen to them. SAM replied that Allied Security, police, and SAMs would be present in varying shifts.
  • Police shifted to emergency staffing (12 hours-on, 12 hours-off, no days off), to provide 24/7 security to the encampment, diverting resources from other public safety activities and imposing a tremendous burden on the department’s officers.
  • Encampment members were seen taking bike racks and pallets from across campus to the site during the evening.
  • Encampment members were seen bringing in 4x8 sheets of plywood with rope handles attached for use as shields/barricades.
  • Social media requests begin immediately for fundraising support of the encampment.
  • SAMs were told by one individual supportive of the encampment that the goal would be for arrests to take place.

Regular Communications with Camp Participants

  • Representatives from the Office of Student Involvement, Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Office for Student Affairs and Campus Life, and the Chancellor’s Office communicated regularly with camp-designated liaisons every day the encampment was up. The encampment sent out at least five different individuals as liaisons.
  • Discussions with the encampment were increasingly difficult; there was no consistent person to communicate with, no one claimed to have any authority, and shifting representatives deflected responsibility and accountability for communications, actions, or follow-up.
  • One camp participant emailed a demand list to university officials. This individual later stated that they were not a decision-maker and did not speak for all the organizations in the encampment.
  • A-frame signage was added near the camp entrance on Library Walk with relevant campus and state rules and regulations.
  • Two campus notices from the chancellor were sent between May 1 and May 5—articulating concerns, declaring the camp illegal, and telling individuals to leave.
  • For 20 minutes prior to dispersing the camp, law enforcement officers made clear announcements over loudspeakers every five minutes declaring the site an unlawful assembly and allowing anyone who wanted to leave to walk away.
  • The encampment organizers themselves notified participants of the risks of arrest and sanctions for violations of campus policies in their distributed pamphlets and how-to manuals.

Fortification of the Camp and Escalating Safety Concerns

  • SAMs, police officers, and university officials received written and verbal feedback that the encampment was everything from a minor nuisance to outright terrifying to campus students, faculty, and staff members.
  • After receiving privacy concerns from students and experiencing access issues to their building, Student health services moved to remote, urgent care and telemedicine services to provide continuity of care during the encampment.
  • After 5 days, administrative actions (e.g. regular conversation, written communications, signage, health and safety inspection attempts, etc.) had not resolved the illegal encampment.
  • Access on Library Walk was restricted multiple times.
  • Saturday May 4 was a turning point. The following occurred on 5/4/24:
    • The encampment organizers added an entry table and implemented an admission procedure, involving use of an encrypted messaging app and wrist stamp that restricted access to the camp.
    • Camp participants ordered and coordinated the expansion of the camp size from approximately 11,000 sqf to 33,000 sqf.
    • The encampment denied entry to the fire marshal and the health inspector who wanted to inspect the camp to ensure safety.
    • During denial of entry to safety inspectors and two SAMs, approximately 200-250 camp participants physically encroached and surrounded, verbally threatened, and drove back the two SAMs and two inspectors from the entrance of the encampment. The crowd was incited to this action by a camp speaker.
    • Deliveries of additional materials to fortify the camp arrived including plywood, stakes, etc.
    • Non-affiliates including members of the Black Panthers, Antifa, and the Communist Revolutionary Group arrived at the camp site, provided perimeter security to the site positioned at intervals around the camp perimeter, and trained the camp participants in physical techniques to resist arrest.
    • By Saturday evening, with the tripling of the camp size and heightened measures taken to claim occupation of an area of public campus property, UC San Diego Police notified university leaders that the risk of the camp growing to be unmanageable and un-securable had reached heightened levels. University leadership asked the police to look into the possibility of securing adequate mutual aid from the campus’ law enforcement partners. The police were not confident at that time that we would receive adequate mutual aid, as our law enforcement partners had just the day before declined to provide support for security for the Sun God Festival, necessitating the cancellation of that event.
    • Numerous students reported being uncomfortable and even terrified about the growing size of the camp.
    • Students felt more comfortable moving to telemedicine and urgent care for health services
  • On Sunday May 5 at 3pm, a scheduled and advertised counterprotest was planned at Library Walk. The encampment had no published speaking/rally program for 3pm on Sunday (they published a daily schedule of activities on social media accounts). The encampment deliberately added a 3pm program to escalate the situation and provoke the counterprotestors. Encampment participants left the encampment and occupied Library Walk at the same time as the counterprotestors were marching through the same area. This resulted in hundreds of individuals from the two factions, feet apart from each other, screaming and waving objects in each other’s faces. Thankfully, this incident did not result in violence, but the encampment’s decision to provoke and confront counterprotestors dramatically increased the risk of violence breaking out as happened at UCLA. If a fight had broken out, it is likely that the campus’ security resources would have been overwhelmed.
  • University leaders determined that waiting for something more dangerous to happen (e.g. fire in the camp, attack by outsiders seen at other campuses including UCLA just the week prior, etc.) was unconscionable. The safety of the entire campus—including the individuals in the encampment—required dismantling the illegal camp. University leaders took the path of precaution and prevention rather than risk and devastation.

Monday Morning Encampment Dispersal

  • UC San Diego Police, California Highway Patrol Border Division, and San Diego County Sheriff’s Office coordinated to disperse the encampment.
  • As law enforcement arrived on the scene, one camp participant ran into the camp and woke up everyone in the camp site. Individuals in the camp donned hard hats, goggles, pepper spray and bear spray, and positioned metal and plywood shields to resist arrest. Camp participants lined up to physically defend the camp as the law enforcement dispersal announcements began.
  • Four announcements, five minutes apart, were made over loudspeakers declaring an unlawful assembly and ordering participants to leave the area without consequences. A clear path of egress was available and used by some participants, including several non-affiliates.
  • Officers removed perimeter barriers, deconstructed tents, and removed other items from the area in a slow, measured manner, and at a distance from camp participants.
  • Camp participants shifted their position to interpose themselves between the officers and the remainder of the camp. Those participants who chose to stay and be arrested were individually removed from the camp, typically one participant escorted by one law enforcement officer. Only one minor injury was reported. There were 64 arrests.
  • Facilities Maintenance staff secured personal belongings and later established a process for camp participants to reclaim their personal belongings. They removed 4.5 truckfuls of waste, debris, and personal belongings from the camp.
  • Clearing the illegal encampment and unlawful assembly proceeded only after numerous warnings and opportunities to leave and was handled with extreme professionalism by the law enforcement officers.
  • Items found in the camp included: a sword, propane tanks and grill, pepper spray and bear spray, metal and plywood shield, mallets, wooden stakes, etc.

Monday midday Large Protest and Police Interference

  • A crowd of protestors (students and non-affiliates) gathered at south Library Walk by mid-morning. One individual lunged at law enforcement officers and was pulled back by other protestors. There was no reaction from the officer.
  • The crowd later moved toward the Price Center, where detainees were being processed before transportation to jail.
  • As time passed, the crowd grew significantly and attempted to break into the Price Center through doors and windows.
  • Protestors surrounded and pounded on sheriff vehicles and obstructed the movement of officers and vehicles attempting to leave campus, interfering with the arrest process.
  • The crowd became increasingly violent and aggressive and pushed into police officers, lunged at police officers, grabbed their batons, and used barricades to force officers around streets and into buildings. The crowd began to surround the officers, who retreated into two buildings. Some physical altercations between protesters and officers occurred during this period. Despite the aggressiveness of the afternoon protest, only one additional arrest was made.
  • SAMs on site received multiple threats.

Student and Faculty Conduct Processes

  • Student Organizations
    • Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) received a cease and desist notice for their role in organizing the encampment; and additional sanctions for continued violations of the student code of conduct.
    • Two additional student orgs are under investigation.
    • Verbal threats and harassment of SAMs and professional staff members began during the camp and continue by emails, social media posts, in person, and in speeches.
  • Individual Student conduct cases
    • 58 students will begin moving through the student conduct process as noted in the 1) campus notices, 2) handouts personally delivered by staff members, 3) A-Frames in the location, 4) interpersonal communications, and 5) verbal warnings delivered over loudspeakers by law enforcement.
    • Individual students in the conduct process should speak directly to the person (hearing officer) identified in any communications from the university about their individual case. No two cases are the same.
    • Respect for hearing officers is required from all parties. The choices of a small number of students has created a significant amount of work for these colleagues.
    • Initial Interim suspensions were issued to student participants and known co-leaders of illegal encampment. The purpose of the interim suspensions was to limit participation in the illegal encampment and, after the camp was taken down, to prevent the encampment’s recurrence as seen on other campuses and universities.
    • Because at this time there is no evidence that the encampment will be rebuilt, it is anticipated that no more interim suspensions will be issued. The student conduct administrative resolution process, however, will continue.
  • Faculty Conduct cases
    • All applicable faculty rules and processes will be followed in the adjudication of faculty conduct cases. As of May 9, 2024, these processes have not yet begun.

Normal Business Operations Resume May 7, 2024

The decision to return to normal business operations was made for several reasons.

  • The law enforcement action of the day before had concluded.
  • University leaders in consultation with Academic Senate leaders, wanted to return to in-person instruction as soon as possible to minimize disruption to the University’s academic mission.
  • Because of the commitment to free expression on campus, University leaders determined that normal business operations must include normal free expression activities. Campus leadership placed its confidence in the community to peacefully protest and rally and that confidence turned out to be well placed. The campus successfully supported two very large events this week (one with over 600 participants and another with over 2,000 participants) and both were loud but peaceful demonstrations that were fully supported by the campus.
  • We are committed to the safety of ALL students, faculty, and staff; to upholding the First Amendment and freedom of expression; and to the centrality of our academic mission.