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Law enforcement called to UC Santa Barbara campus where protesters had occupied a building and disrupted final exams

ISLA VISTA, Calif. – Multiple law enforcement agencies gathered on UC Santa Barbara's campus early Wednesday morning, in an apparent attempt to secure a campus building where protesters disrupted final exams, vandalized a classroom and set up barricades earlier in the week.

An Instagram page called UCSB Liberated Zone started livestreaming early Wednesday morning, showing Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies and University of California police outside Girvetz Hall and the lawn between the Davidson Library and North Hall. Law enforcement members in riot gear could be seen putting up yellow caution tape and positioning themselves along the stretch of campus outside the library.

Girvetz Hall is where a group of individuals calling themselves "Say Genocide UCSB" had created a display of fake dead bodies, vandalized a classroom to resemble a war-torn building, and disrupted final exams from taking place on Monday. The group said on social media they would occupy the building until UCSB leadership officially called the situation in Palestine a genocide and divested from Israel. On Tuesday, the office of the Chancellor issued a statement saying the group had also intimidated custodial staff and that campus leadership "cannot tolerate activity that interferes with access to buildings, and students’ ability to complete their courses, fulfill their requirements, and graduate."

The lawn between the Davidson Library and North Hall is where a pro-Palestinian encampment was set up in the early morning hours of May 1. The UCSB Liberated Zone social media account appears to be affiliated with that encampment. Prior to the livestream, their Instagram shared a post saying they expected "police escalation" and called on community members to come out to support them. The post also said they "do not expect the police to differentiate between the encampment and members of 'Say Genocide'."

The law enforcement action comes two days before UC Santa Barbara is set to hold commencement ceremonies. Earlier this month, the university announced they were moving the ceremonies from their traditional spot along the campus lagoon to the Recreation Center fields and limiting each graduate to six guest tickets, citing safety concerns. Following intense backlash from students and family members, the university decided to return the ceremonies to the lagoon and allow graduates to bring up to 12 guests.

In response to Your News Channel's inquiries, UCSB issued the following statement:

"A group of unidentified individuals restricted access to several campus classrooms on Monday, which disrupted a number of scheduled final exams. The individuals were told to vacate the building, and the exams were rescheduled. 
Students, staff, and faculty must have full access to our campus to learn, work, and live. When the individuals ignored the demand to leave, the University was forced to clear the building. Police arriving at the location found the building vacated but worked to ensure that the classrooms were clear.
We are not aware of any arrests at this time as the classrooms had been abandoned."

Commencement ceremonies are set to take place Friday, June 14 through Sunday, June 16.

Live Updates:

6:00 a.m. - A clean-up crew could be seen power washing the area outside of Girvetz Hall, washing away any messages or images drawn in chalk.

5:00 a.m. - A group of campus police officers will remain stationed at Girvetz Hall.

4:00 a.m.- The Daily Nexus reports on Twitter that UCSB has issued an emergency notification saying UCPD had ended its operation at Girvetz Hall. The pro-Palestinian encampment at North Hall remains in place.

3:45 a.m. - Officers and deputies continue to pack up and leave campus, with only a handful remaining. Some demonstrators appear to be leaving as well.

3:17 a.m. - Some members of law enforcement begin to leave the area as protesters and students look on.

3:05 a.m. - The livestream on UCSB Liberated Zone's Instagram page ended.

2:45 a.m. - A UCSB professor who did not wish to be identified tells your News Channel they are under the impression law enforcement was dispatched to campus to clear out protesters who had occupied Girvetz Hall. However, it appeared the building had emptied out before law enforcement arrived.

2:36 a.m. - Lily Karofsky, a Jewish student at UC Santa Barbara tells your News Channel, "I am scared for my friends safety, and frustrated this is going on on my campus. Very curious about what happens next."

2:00 a.m. - The UCSB Liberated Zone live stream shows protesters chanting while members of law enforcement stand by and watch. Several groups of students have gathered on campus in the area as well.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
UC Santa Barbara

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Nate Loop


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