Police on UC Irvine campus after anti-Israel agitators swarm buildings; students told to ‘leave area’

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After hundreds of anti-Israel protesters swarmed campus buildings and set up barricades at the University of California, Irvine, local law enforcement agencies responded and students were ordered to leave immediately on Wednesday.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, a UC Irvine spokesperson said that the campus erupted into chaos after several hundreds of protesters entered the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall on the California campus and began to barricade the building at 2:30 p.m. PST.

The university said that it put out a call to local law enforcement and received immediate assistance from the Irvine Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

In livestream footage of the anti-Israel agitators’ confrontation with police, at least one protester was arrested.

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In a follow-up statement, students were told to “leave area” as the protest continued.

“Anyone currently in buildings in the vicinity of the protest are advised to exit buildings & leave area at this time,” UC Irvine said in a statement. “Please disregard all previous orders to shelter in place. If able, please leave immediately & continue to avoid the protest area until further notice.”

Footage from the campus showed law enforcement, dressed in protest gear and holding batons, clashing with anti-Israel agitators.

The protesters were seen holding umbrellas and chanting, “free, free Palestine.”

“From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free” they were heard chanting. “Long live Palestine.”

Authorities said that the protesters who entered the campus on Wednesday afternoon joined the established encampment that had been occupying the campus since April 29.

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In an earlier X post, UC Irvine told students to “shelter in place” as police descended onto the campus.

“Protest has escalated near Physical Science Quad. Avoid the area,” the social media post said. “If you are in the area, shelter in place for your safety until further notice.”

Beto Mendez, a UC Irvine student Senator, told Fox News Digital that police are slowly clearing some of the encampments.

“Police are clearing out some encampments, very slowly, there are like five helicopters flying above right now,” Mendez said.

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The college student said that many of the protesters do not appear to be UC Irvine students, adding that he saw children at the protest.

He added that it was “shocking” that the protests were happening on campus and that school administration is being “very careful and moving slowly.”

UC Irvine said that classes have been canceled for the remainder of the day and that they are monitoring the situation.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation and strongly urge people to stay away from the campus,” the school said.

In an update on Wednesday night, UC Irvine said that classes would be fully remote on Thursday, noting that protests continued into the evening. 

“UC Irvine will move to remote instruction on Thursday, May 16,” the university announced. “Unless specifically noted, all employees should work remotely. Resident students may still access dining facilities. Protest activity continues. Please avoid the area until further notice.”

In a statement on X, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said that any violence or vandalism “of any kind” would not be “tolerated.”  

“The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is continuing to work with law enforcement to monitor all protest-related activity in Orange County, including today’s protest at the University of California, Irvine,” Spitzer wrote in a X post.

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“The right to peaceful assembly is a constitutional right, and we encourage protesters to exercise their right to peaceful assembly; however, criminal activity which transcends peaceful assembly, including violence and vandalism of any kind, will not be tolerated,” he said. 

“Any evidence of criminal activity, including failure to obey lawful orders to disperse, will be investigated and thoroughly reviewed to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed,” Spitzer said.

Fox News Digital’s Stepheny Price contributed to this report.

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