Peaceful Protest Declared Unlawful


Written by: The MQ

“Above all, UC San Diego prides itself on nurturing the health and well-being of our grass,” said Chancellor Khosla.
Photo by Liv Gilbert

On May 6, Chancellor Khosla and his immediate advisors acted on a unilateral consensus to summon law enforcement and disperse the Gaza Solidarity Encampment. In a display of “extreme professionalism,” according to SWAT sergeant Pol Brut, officers arrived at 5 a.m. with arsenals of militarized equipment and prisoner transport vehicles. In addition to removing students, officers were given orders to enforce the newly ratified UCSD dress code “with extreme prejudice,” which authorized police to remove and trample keffiyehs worn by protestors.

In prior campus-wide emails, Chancellor Khosla declared that the encampment presented “serious security and safety hazards.” According to Khosla, the dangerous activities included daily prayer and Shabbat services, dabke dances, vigils, and teach-ins about self-defense and the military industrial complex. “These actions are inherently violent because they are educational,” said Khosla. “The student protestors have repeatedly stated that the encampment has no centralized leadership. While we are committed to First Amendment rights, we do not endorse anarchy.”

Concerns about safety, security, and disruption to campus life were mitigated by closing Student Health Ser­vices, transitioning classes to an online format, and detaining encampment medical professionals. Officers deployed pepper spray, struck protestors with batons, and attempted to run protestors over to protect students from “the violence of the protest in a safe and orderly manner.” An imam who attempted to speak with police was pepper-sprayed, which officers later claimed was deployed in “self-defense against un-American sentiment.” A statement from the San Diego Police Department defended the action: “Peaceful resolution is an attack on police officers’ right to use force.”

A student who preferred to remain anonymous said, “Thanks to the army of riot police who bravely dismantled the encampment, I can now walk through campus without fear of seeing tents and people holding signs on grass. Think about the poor grass! So glad it is now safe for landscaping updates. I recognize that many of my peers were traumatized by these events, but it was a necessary evil to restore law and order to Library Walk.”

Leaked UCSD administration documents have triggered lasting controversy. One email outlining the rationale for canceling the Sun God Festival read: “This encampment is establishing a sense of community among students. If left unchecked, we risk feelings of unity and belonging among our student body.” A few days later, a memo urged professors to avoid “supporting, engaging with, or educating any undergraduate students.” In the week after the encampment was dismantled, the administration reminded instructors that canceling classes for political reasons is against university policy. “We believe that the best thing for UC San Diego’s health and morale is to act like nothing happened.”

Arrested students were processed at San Diego County prisons, and their arraignment dates are in June. “If you ask me, they were far too lenient on those troublemakers,” said La Jolla resident Millie Terry Shill. “With weapons like wooden stakes and aerosolized sunscreen, it was only a matter of time before the protests went from peaceful to violent. I applaud Chancellor Khosla for acting quickly and decisively. I personally increased my donation for UC San Diego Giving Day, and then I slipped him $20, just so he understands my appreciation.”

Administrators reiterated that they believed the encampment was “out of control.” “When these encampments appear on a campus, violence inevitably occurs. We wanted to make sure that any violence was under control, so we found it prudent to start it ourselves,” said one administrator. “I’ve been hearing calls for the chancellor’s resignation. I believe that actions must have consequences, but no major damage to property or our reputation occurred. This was a model response that Chancellor Khosla should be praised for.”

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