IRVINE, Calif. — Over a dozen law enforcement agencies, including Santa Ana Police, responded to a mutual aid request by UC Irvine administration shortly before 3:00 PM Wednesday after reports of a Palestinian solidarity group occupying the Physical Science Lecture Hall, a campus building.

Sources close to the UCI encampment say 46 were arrested, but neither law enforcement or UC Irvine spokespeople have confirmed a number of arrests at press time. Once arrestees were booked at a UCI parking lot, they were put in a campus bus and taken to the Intake Release Center in downtown Santa Ana.

The Santanero confirmed 12 agencies responded to mutual aid call, but Orange County District Attorney tagged nearly 22 agencies in his post.

Confirmed Departments Involved at UCI

These confirmations are based upon video footage and live broadcasts on the air.

  • University of California, Irvine campus police
  • Irvine Police
  • Costa Mesa Police
  • Santa Ana Police
  • Huntington Beach Police
  • Newport Beach Police
  • Fullerton Police
  • Tustin Police
  • Garden Grove Police
  • Anaheim Police
  • Fountain Valley Police
  • Orange County Sheriff Department

Santa Ana Police’s involvement at the dismantling of the encampment and protest at UCI is due to a mutual aid agreement between various law enforcement agencies in Orange County. Around 5:20 PM, Santa Ana Police officers were seen at the science hall where police cut through the alleged student-made lock on the door handles.

Santa Ana Police officers were also seen arresting two people in a chaotic scene as documented by BreakThrough News.

“The right to peaceful assembly is a constitutional right and we encourage protestors 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,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “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 any protester arrested will be charged. Sources say they are being charged with failure to disperse.

“It's a shame that peaceful free speech protests are always responded to with violence. Taking space on campus or in a building is not a threat to anyone. UCl leadership must do everything they can to avoid creating a violent scenario here. These are your students w[ith] zero weapons,” said Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan in a X post.

Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Niell replied saying Khan’s comment was “beneath the office of Mayor.”

As the sun set Wednesday, more protestors left but holdouts remained around 9:30 PM as the main, but small, group left at Aldrich Park.

Some students The Santanero spoke with say the university's response was far more disrupting than the protestors or encampment ever were, including the decision to suspend campus bus transportation.

A student told KCAL News that the encampment did not imped his studies as he found other ways to go to class.

Campus maintenance workers were seen behind skirmish lines cleaning up the encampment as police made arrests. Late in the night, workers pressure washed the chalked message made by the Palestinian solidarity group.

“This is a sad and disheartening day for the UCI campus,” said Orange County Supervisor Vicente Sarmiento. “I stand with all students in their efforts to peacefully protest and voice their opinions. We ask all universities to reflect on their core mission of teaching, and use opportunities like these for meaningful dialogue rather than silence and harm their students.”

Mayor Pro Tem Thai Viet Phan could not confirm if the City or police department would issue a statement late Wednesday night.

“At this time, I do not know of any SAPD officers involved in unauthorized use of force, but I was made aware of a video showing armed SAPD officers physically engaged with protestors,” said Mayor Pro Tem Thai Viet Phan. “I believe that our officers are trained to handle intense situations such as these... However, I believe that SAPD's overall response calls for a review by the Police Oversight Commission to ensure that policies were followed and to update any policies or protocols necessary.”

Those arrested are expected to be released at the Intake Release Center Thursday morning. It is not clear if UC Irvine plans to suspend or discipline those arrested, including students and faculty.

The Santanero contacted Mayor Valerie Amezcua, Santa Ana Police Information Officer Natalie Garcia, and City of Santa Ana Public Affairs Information Officer Paul Eakins but have not heard back as of press time.

Featured photo by Thomas Luna.

This story involves Santa Ana because the Santa Ana Police Department was involved in efforts to dismantle the encampment and protests at UC Irvine on Wednesday, May 15.