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UCLA police chief reassigned after widely criticized anti-Israel protest response

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The chief of police at the University of California, Los Angeles has been reassigned by the school as they begin an investigation into campus security protocol.

Chief John Thomas is being temporarily replaced by Capt. Gawin Gibson as the university evaluates its response to days-long anti-Israel protests that raged on its campus in April.

“There’s been a lot going on and I learned late yesterday that I’m temporarily reassigned from my duties as chief,” Thomas reportedly told campus newspaper The Daily Bruin.

Scattered protests continued into this month as students have remained defiant to university administrators in their disruptive protests against Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which came in response to Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel that killed about 1,200 on Oct. 7, 2023.

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Anti-Israel protesters stand with shields across from members of law enforcement in an encampment at UCLA in Los Angeles. (Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

UCLA has created a new administrative office to lead the investigation into security failures throughout the campus protests.

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“As we said on May 5, UCLA created a new Office of Campus Safety that is leading a thorough examination of our security processes aimed at enhancing the wellbeing and safety of our community,” UCLA vice chancellor for strategic communications Mary Osako said, according to The Daily Bruin.

UCLA protester detained

Police detain a demonstrator inside an anti-Israel encampment on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles. (AP/Ethan Swope)

UCLA repeatedly attempted to allow space for the protests, stating early on that officials were “monitoring this situation to support a peaceful campus environment that respects our community’s right to free expression while minimizing disruption.”

At the height of the demonstrations, protesters erected fencing to keep out law enforcement and forced the entire student body into remote learning.

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Protesters at UCLA wave Palestinian flag

Hundreds of students protest outside the encampment on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles. (Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

On April 26, UCLA noted that they were “following University of California systemwide policy guidance, which directs us not to request law enforcement involvement preemptively, and only if absolutely necessary to protect the physical safety of our campus community.”

Hundreds of protesters were ultimately arrested following a nine-hour standoff on the UCLA campus on April 30.

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