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'Free Palestine' Demonstration in US: Police Crack Down on University Campuses

The demonstration by Palestine supporters at America's Columbia University ended dramatically. Police with anti-riot equipment entered the building where protesters were gathered last night and arrested dozens of people. 

On the other hand, there was a clash between rival groups at the University of California (UCLA) in Los Angeles on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday. 

New York City officers entered the Columbia University campus late Tuesday night after the university requested assistance, the spokesperson said.

The spokeswoman said tents set up by protesters on the grounds were removed while officials had to enter the second floor of the building via a ladder and a window to clear Hamilton Hall. 

Protesters had occupied the hall about 20 hours earlier, calling on the Ivy League university to stop doing business with companies that support the war in Israel or Gaza.

"When the institution received information the night before that Hamilton Hall had been occupied, vandalized and blocked off, we were left with no option," the university said. 

The university said, 'The purpose of contacting the New York Police Department was to take action against the protesters and not to suppress their demands. We made it clear that the protesters cannot disrupt the activities of the university campus indefinitely and they were violating the rules and regulations.'

Police spokesman Carlos Nieves said he had no immediate reports of any injuries. He said the protesters were arrested when they refused to accept the Monday deadline to vacate the protest site. 

Nieves said other universities stepped up efforts to end the Columbia-inspired protests. Fabian Lugo, a first-year accounting student, said he was not involved in the protest but that he opposes the university's decision to call police to campus.

Meanwhile, violent clashes broke out overnight on the UCLA campus between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protesters and police arrived with anti-riot gear to control the situation but did not immediately intervene. People threw chairs at each other and kicked and punched each other. Some people armed with sticks were seen beating others. 

Before anti-riot police arrived, a group forced a man to the ground and kicked and punched him, and he was later rescued by others.

Mary Osako, a senior UCLA official, told campus newspaper the Daily Bruin that “there were horrific incidents of violence on campus tonight and we immediately called law enforcement for assistance.” 

Police have also cracked down on other campuses across the US over the past two weeks, arresting more than 1,000 protesters.