Red states show they are better at law and order by the way they clear unlawful college encampments

News & Politics

The ongoing breakdown of law and order on college campuses across the country highlights just how differently Democrats and Republicans approach the issue since the BLM riots in 2020. Nowhere is this disparity more clear than when one examines what happened at the University of California Los Angeles under Democrat Governor Gavin Newson compared with what happened at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University under Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin.

At VCU, anti-Israel protesters started an occupation on campus to pressure the school to divest from Israel as the war in Gaza continues. Within a very short amount of time, VCU officials warned the protesters that if they did not stop their encampment, they could be arrested for trespassing. Naturally, the protesters refused.

Once night fell, videos showed local and state law enforcement in riot gear moving to clear the camp. But the protesters were ready, having makeshift shields of their own and having objects handy to throw at the officers. It was a brutal clash, with riot shields banging up against banners. But eventually, the campus rebellion was brought to heel. A total of 13 people were arrested that night. While the scene was chaotic, order was eventually restored.

“After repeated warnings and refusal to disperse, law enforcement must protect Virginians. My administration will continue to fully support campus, local and state law enforcement and university leadership to keep our campuses safe,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin posted on X.

When I arrived in Richmond the next day, I expected further resistance from students and protesters. But instead, I found VCU’s Students for Justice in Palestine imploring people to stand down for now to avoid another crackdown. At UVA, the planned encampment started a day early. Campus police informed protesters there would be no sweep if they did not set up tents. With what happened at VCU fresh in mind, the protesters complied. They still protested, but there was no entrenched camp.

After almost a week of following what UVA leadership told them, protesters tried setting up an encampment again. After the protesters resisted campus police, the Virginia State Police took the lead in clearing out the camp and holding off angry protesters who started to show up. The affair was over quickly, similar to what happened at VCU.

This was in stark contrast to what was happening at UCLA, where a camp, complete with barricades, had been set up by anti-Israel protesters. Jewish students had been blocked from entering the area by the occupiers, with some being attacked during a counter-rally. This caused an attack on the encampment by a pro-Israeli crowd, causing a riot that lasted for almost four before police finally intervened.

“The only means of protection we had was each other. WE KEEP US SAFE. The university’s hypocrisy [is] all too apparent. The university would rather see us dead than divest. Call on UCLA to disclose, divest, end the silence,” a Los Angeles far-left group posted on X. The group’s official statement went on to complain that police ignore their “screams” for help. That same far-left group, People’s City Council – Los Angeles, is virulently anti-police and is not shy about it.

It became clear this was no longer a situation that could be allowed to continue. The order was finally given to clear the camp.

The problem for police at that point was that the encampment’s defenses had been reinforced after the initial riot. So instead of only having to worry about tents, police had to figure out how to break through the rudimentary yet effective barricades.

In short, it was a slog. I arrived at the encampment around midnight. California Highway Patrolmen in riot gear started to advance on the camp in force around 3:00 a.m. The camp was finally cleared after 6:00 a.m., just as the sun was starting to rise. Over 200 people were arrested. Full details on what happened that night can be found here.

The problem California faces is that UCLA was far from the only encampment at a college. The very same day police cleared out UCLA’s camp, another one sprang up at California State University Long Beach. Protesters set up a “zona autonoma” outside Brotman Hall in an effort to get the school to bow to their demands to divest from and boycott Israel.

Julio Rosas/Blaze Media

Protesters created barriers for their newly established zone, which initially took students by surprise who were trying to walk through the outdoor area. Eventually, lanes of traffic were created for people who wanted to walk in or leave the zone.

In response, a few Jewish students stood next to the protest zone holding American and Israeli flags.

“God bless America,” one of the students holding the American flag told me was his response to the protest zone.

When asked if there was concern that the protest zone could turn into another UCLA situation, the counter-protesters said they did not think that would happen at CSULB.

“This campus is not as unified as [UCLA]; it’s a commuter school, right? A lot of people have jobs. A lot of people at Columbia, UCLA, and USC are from a higher income bracket, so a lot of them don’t have jobs,” said a student who wanted to be identified as Sheryl.

As for UCLA? The organizers who created the camp near Royce Hall have already promised their fight is not over and hinted that another camp will be created.

The country is starting to unravel once again as it did nearly four years ago. In combination with the warmer weather and the election year, it does not appear the unrest will go away any time soon, but it is clear some states will weather the coming storm better than others.

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