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Mayor Farrah Khan Slammed for “Careless” Response to Pro-Palestine Chaos as UCI Students and Faculty are Arrested


The Irvine Mayor once again took to Twitter to condone protestors—even after they storm a UCI lecture hall—and condemn the university. 


When hundreds of pro-Palestine demonstrators erected tents and unlawfully occupied a portion of the campus two weeks ago, many feared it was a disaster waiting to happen. Even as Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan insisted the occupation was peaceful, ordered police to stand down, took photos with pro-Hamas activists, and praised the protestors for “rejecting colonialism,” campus officials were wary that UCI could be the next to join Columbia University, UCLA, and the broader list of schools where protests have degenerated into violence and collectively over 2,000 arrests.


As of yesterday, that proverbial powderkeg seems to have finally erupted as hundreds of protestors stormed the campus’ Physical Sciences Lecture Hall on Wednesday afternoon. All the while, Farrah Khan continues to add fuel to the fire by condemning the university and campus police while also condoning the aggressors.


It began at approximately 2:30 PM, when the existing encampment added several hundred protestors to their ranks and entered the lecture hall and began to barricade the building. UCI officials responded by calling upon the Irvine Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Department for aid. Police began clearing out the encampment and removing barriers.


Within the hour, UCI issued its first zotALERT of the evening to warn students of a “violent protest confirmed at or near Physical Science Lecture Hall.” As the situation escalated, and protestors began to unabashedly hurl objects like water bottles at officers, UCI told any students in the area to take shelter until further notice. They later asked students to disregard the previous announcement and instead to “please leave immediately.”


"It’s a shame that peaceful free speech protests are always responded to with violence," Khan wrote on Twitter/X. "Taking space on campus or in a building is not a threat to anyone. UCI leadership must do everything they can to avoid creating a violent scenario here. These are your students w/ zero weapons.”


Like many others who were appalled by the Mayor’s response, Newport Beach City Councilman Will O’Neill responded to the tweet asserting that Khan’s faulty accusations are in poor taste. 


“Police officers from Newport Beach are currently in Irvine providing assistance at the request of a mutual aid call. Your careless wording makes it appear that you are preemptively accusing our officers, and officers from the many law enforcement agencies who responded, of violence,” wrote O’Neill. “If that’s what you meant, then your message is beneath the office of Mayor.  If it is not, then clarify immediately.”


As of now, Khan has issued no clarification—or any other form of public communication.


News reports confirm that there have been at least one dozen arrests made since the protestors stormed the building—however, there is no indication that law enforcement has committed any acts of violence against the protestors. Among the arrests include multiple UCI faculty members, including one woman claiming to be a tenured professor.

 

The latest alert from UCI is an announcement that the university will move to remote instruction on Thursday, May 16. “Protest activity continues. Please avoid area until further notice,” it concludes.


It is deeply unfortunate for the students who pay tuition to attend UCI and simply want to complete their academic year in peace, particularly seniors in their final week of school. What should be a time of celebration and culmination of their hard work will instead be characterized by chaos and disruption at the hands of the pro-Palestine group and the public officials who cheer them on from afar.


From its inception, Farrah Khan has, at best, been deliberately downplaying the volatility of the situation. It is possible that, had she not ordered police to stand down when the unlawful camp was first erected, all of this could have been avoided. Even after the university publicly stated that the protests had become “violent” and campus property had been both seized and damaged, Khan insisted that this was nothing more than “peaceful free speech protests.”


As the Mayor of the nation’s 63rd most populous city, and a candidate with ambitions for higher office, everything she says deserves to be held to a relatively high degree of public scrutiny. She has shown a lack of understanding and responsibility. 


“You need to resign now,” writes one constituent in response to Khan’s tweet. “You're an embarrassment of a leader. We need a safe community and safe university for all, not just whom you prefer.”


“You have allowed so much hate to thrive in this fine city,” writes another.


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