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Laura Coates Live

Police In UCLA Positioning To Clear Encampment; 400 University Protesters Arrested Nationwide; CEO's Not Hiring From Campuses With Unrest; Tension Rising, Massive Police Presence At UCLA. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 01, 2024 - 23:00   ET



UNKNOWN (voice-over): This is "CNN Breaking News."

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: We have breaking news tonight out of Los Angeles. Police at UCLA are preparing to order pro-Palestinian protesters to end their encampment. We are seeing a massive police presence begin to arrive at the campus. In a scene that might seem very familiar to all of us, to the NYPD's show of force just last night at Columbia.

Classes at UCLA were already canceled today after a violent confrontation broke out between protesters and counter-protesters overnight. And now we're told that classes will be remote for the rest of this week. I want to go right to CNN's Nick Watt on the UCLA campus. Nick, what are you seeing? We're seeing a crowd gathering right now and we're hearing chants. Tell me what's going on.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Laura, we have just seen about a dozen or two dozen more LAPD officers coming out of a college building onto this sort of buffer zone between the encampment which is over there and another group of pro-Palestinian protesters which you can hear, they are behind me.

Now all day we have seen the police presence, the law enforcement presence increases here. California Highway Patrol, LAPD. We just saw about an hour ago, a phalanx of LAPD officers wearing riot helmets, carrying non-lethal weapons and carrying flex cuffs or zip ties which we have seen used in other encampment sweeps as handcuffs on the protesters.

This is another group of pro-Palestinian protesters, as you can hear, chanting, jeering at the police, waiting for what they think the rumor going around is that the police are going to go into the encampment tonight.

Now we heard earlier in the day the UC president say that they would go into the camp at the appropriate time. Perhaps this is the appropriate time. Now remember last night here on the UCLA campus there was a very light police presence, just a few college security officers and then we saw pro-Israel demonstrators charging at that barricade, at that camp. There were fireworks, there were chemical sprays, there were assaults. It was very, very ugly. The governor of California said he was basically decried the security

response to that and today, as I say, hundreds more officers on this campus. So, the --

COATES: Nick, we were watching -- Nick, we're seeing movement right now. Nick, we're seeing movement right now.

WATT: Yeah. Yeah.

COATES: Officers who appear to be getting in a line towards the entrance to a building.

WATT: Correct.

WATT: Yeah. Yeah. They are readying themselves, elbow length apart and seeming to be holding their belts, which I'm assuming they have their various either zip ties or others on it and they're trying to space themselves out. What is the building that they seem to be forming around? Is this the area of the encampment?

WATT: Well, they have been coming out of various college buildings. The officers that I'm seeing right now, so I'm on the east side. There is another large group of pro-Palestinian protesters on the west side of the encampment. Where I am, Laura, I'm not sure what pictures you're seeing, but where I am, I am seeing the LAPD officers' line up facing away from the encampment towards this group of other pro- Palestinian protesters that are being held back by barricades.

Now, this has been declared an unlawful, let me get the wording, an unlawful assembly by these law enforcement officers. That came down just within the last hour or so and this encampment has been here for a week. Now it is declared an unlawful assembly, which perhaps would suggest that they are about to take action against that unlawful assembly.

Now, the problem is going to be for them trying to clear out this encampment while they have hundreds of other pro-Palestinian protesters on both sides of this encampment. So, you know, there's a possibility they might delay until this crowd thins out. We don't know, but they are looking right now, as you just mentioned on the pictures you're seeing, they are looking to be in, I wouldn't say an aggressive posture, but in a posture of readiness.

Right now, as I say, though, from where I am, they are lined up facing towards the pro-Palestinians that are protesters outside the encampment rather than towards the encampment. Back to you.


COATES: I think we're seeing the same picture. And Nick, what is concerning, I mean, I'm just looking at the number of officers who appear to be lined up. We don't necessarily have the full vantage point in the scope of what you may be seeing on the ground. But the amount of protesters that they are facing seem to be outnumbering even the huge number of police officers who are there. And I'm looking at bicycle barricades and orange cones. Is that really

the only thing standing between these officers and the protesters and hope that it will remain just chanting?

WATT: That is what they've been trying to do for the past week. Just security personnel and bicycles and barricades trying to get between the sides. I don't see right now, by the way, any pro-Israel protesters here, any counter-protesters. It is all pro-Palestinian. So, that is one headache that the security officials are not having to deal with, which is keeping both sides apart, which is what they've been having to deal with over the past week.

So, that doesn't seem to be an issue right now. But what they are having to deal with are the few hundred kids inside that encampment and adults and then these two large throngs of pro-Palestinian protesters on either side.

So, it is unclear exactly what they are going to do and when. I don't believe it looks imminent, but it does look perhaps like something is going to happen tonight. Now, listen, the governor of California made it very clear he wanted more security on this campus today. Now, they've been trying to keep security very at an arm's length here because they didn't want to antagonize.

This security, these LAPD officers are clearly antagonizing this crowd. So, to what end? Are they going to go into the encampment or not? We do not know for sure. But as I say, the fact that they just recently declared this an unlawful assembly after a week would suggest that they are perhaps getting ready for some sort of action. Laura.

COATES: Really quick, Nick, I just want to clarify one point. You said the officers are antagonizing the crowd. Are they communicating or you mean their very presence is triggering to those who are there?

WATT: No, no, no. Just by their very presence --

COATES: Got it. Okay.

WATT: -- you know, which we've seen at various campuses. And that's what they were trying to avoid here at UCLA. They really tried. We didn't see LAPD all week. They were very much at an arm's length because they didn't want to rile up the situation. They didn't want to see what happened, for example, at USC when armed officers went in and it just created a terrible scene. It's a real dilemma here.

You know, they obviously don't want this encampment here for that much longer. But they also don't want the violent scenes that they saw last night when they had a low police presence. And they also don't really want the violent scenes that potentially could happen if they go into this encampment heavy handed. I mean, I hate to say it's a lose-lose situation, but it's a very difficult situation for law enforcement and for college administration.

COATES: A powder keg or a piece and little room in between. Nick, thank you so much. Stand by. We're going to get right back to you. If those police move in, we're going to be watching very closely. So, everyone, please stand by as the tension is rising. You can just feel it's almost palpable what it is Nick that is describing to all of us.

You know, more than 400 protesters have been arrested at university campuses from coast to coast over just the past 24 hours. You've got eruptions of vandalism as well. And we are learning tonight that official at the City College of New York say that demonstrators smashed glass doors, graffitied walls and ransacked public property. And they say they found chains, flares, a bolt cutter and also box cutters.

Not what parents maybe have in mind when they send their kids off to get a college education or a student to learn back there trying to get a degree with the goal is ultimately of trying to get a job.


UNKNOWN: We will not be moved unless by force.

UNKNOWN: We have to actually put action to our words. And if we don't do that, then who are we, right? And I care about that. I care about action. We have to do something. We can't just believe things. We have to take action.

UNKNOWN: We're not going to stop. And I think what the administration did last night was a huge mistake on them. This only added more fuel to the movement.


COATES: Now it's true there appears to be a significant percentage of outsider agitators who were involved in the protest. Less than half of those who were arrested on NYU's campus last week were either students or staff. But are some students about to get an education they maybe didn't bargain for when the protest began? Well, that's a question that some, well, CEOs are now appearing to answer.

Just listen, for example, to this warning by Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods when he was asked, if the turmoil on these campuses will actually impact who his company even hires.


DARREN WOODS, CEO, EXXON MOBIL: What we're seeing on campuses today in some places is something very different from that. Harassment and intimidation. I think there's no place for that, frankly, at those universities. And certainly, no place for that in a company like ExxonMobil.


So, we wouldn't look to bring folks like that into our company. And if that action or those protests reflect the values of the campuses where they're doing it, we wouldn't be interested in recruiting students from those campuses.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: I mean, that might be surprising or not surprising to you. Woods, though, isn't alone. And we have hedge fund founder Daniel Loeb telling the "New York Post," quote, "We're looking for high quality candidates, but we're going to be looking at different places."

The CEO of an executive search firm tells the "Post," quote, "I'm hearing from people they don't want to send their kids to these places, but also from the banks that they're leery about recruiting now from these highly visible schools and will look to places maybe in the Midwest where you don't see this type of activity."

Of course, you are seeing some of this on different campuses all across the nation. But is this just a bluff from corporate America or might they be serious this time? Well, joining me now, Shark Tank judge Kevin O'Leary. He's also the chairman of O'Leary Ventures. Good to see you, Kevin.

As we are watching all of this unfold. And I want to lean into your experience as a longtime businessman. You've hired thousands of people over the course of your career. And I'm really intrigued about what corporate America's response might be. Would involvement in protests like these, for example, would it deter you from hiring some young adults from any of these schools?

KEVIN O'LEARY, CHAIRMAN, O'LEARY VENTURES: So, I'm agnostic to brands. I would hire from UCLA. I would hire from Columbia. It doesn't matter. The hiring decision is an individual decision. It's an individual basis. And so, what I don't think we are talking enough about is a tragedy occurring at the individual level right now.

When these protests occurred in the past, and by the way, there have been student protests since America was formed, and we allow free speech and protests have been part of it, and you think about the '60s and the '70s, Vietnam War, and all of the protests that have occurred. Most of those were shot on 16-millimeter film, the majority, 80, 90 percent of that was high grainy. You can't really get any resolution.

But unfortunately for these participants in the last few weeks, that's not the case. Let me explain it. It's being shot on 1080p and 4K video and from surveillance cameras with extremely high resolution in low light conditions, including retinal scanning. This is what's happened with AI. So, if you're burning down something or taking a flag down or fighting with police, I'm sorry. You're trashing your personal brand. And let me explain how this works.

When I'm hiring somebody, and I'm not different than any other corporation, you just heard from S&P 500 CEOs, we do what's called a deep, dark search. So, if you're a candidate in the executive element of a company or any candidate of materiality, you do this. You look at their resume and you say, let's hire a firm. It's about $4,800 per search and go deep web, go dark web.

All of this imagery that you're seeing tonight, all this unedited film is going to be there in about two weeks. So, if you're out there right now, even in the dark with no sunglasses on, even though you've got a mask on, I'll see your eyes at 4K resolution. I know who you are. And unfortunately, what's going to occur to these young people have not thought this through.

I'll see your resume. You may be a great candidate. Then I'll find that you were doing this or fighting the police or whatever it was. I'll put that resume on the left into the garbage because I know I can find someone else just as good as you, of which there are tens of thousands of candidates that didn't participate in this. You are trashing your future.

And look, I'm not against you protesting, but you must understand in today's economy with A.I. technology, you just killed your career. I feel sad for them. I really do.

COATES: I want to ask you. I mean, first of all, it's daunting and really foreboding the way you describe just how accessible the information really could be and that people's anonymity when they intend it to be anonymous is compromised. But there are those who probably have two reactions. One is maybe take your job and shove it. The priority is what I believe in in terms of what I stand for. That might be one response.

The other might be, well, hold on, I'm from a generation, I mean, not me, I'm an '80s baby, but a generation where my whole life has been documented on social media. And so, join the club. Add it to all the other things you're likely to find about me. It's unfair that you say you want me to protest and I get held accountable. Can either be reconciled?

O'LEARY: Well, there's three ways this affects you. Let's take the Google situation. You broke company policy. You got fired. You can sue Google. Good luck with that. You're not hirable anymore. I'm sorry for --


COATES: You're referring to those who engaged in that sit-in, essentially, of employees from Google who --

O'LEARY: I mean --

COATES: -- there were dozens of them. I should probably say, there were dozens who were fired or placed on administrative leave because they were participating in employee sit-ins inside of some of the offices last month, and they have filed a complaint arguing that they had protected speech and that they were unlawfully fired. Go ahead.

O'LEARY: It's fine. You can litigate until the cows come home. You're not going to get hired again. You have to understand you have an employment contract and you breached it. That's number one. Number two, you broke the law. You're caught on a 4K security camera for the rest of your life. You're there. I'm sorry. You just didn't think it through.

And I understand the passion when you're in your early 20s. We're all there. I mean, everybody went through this. In college, you have passion. I think it's great. But you've got to think about your future when you're starting a family. Today, all of these people, tens of thousands of them, won't know why they didn't get that job, won't know why they can't join a board, or they couldn't get a loan, or they couldn't join a nonprofit. It's because of what you did in the last 48 hours.

I'm really sorry for them. And I teach at colleges and universities, and I tell these young students, we're in a new era of AI, high- resolution imagery. It is what it is.

COATES: I mean, I wonder what your opinion of it is. I mean, I know you've expressed feeling sorry for them, but might that translate to, okay, and I'm not talking about people who have committed heinous acts in the course of things, but there has been even a push for people who are returning citizens who have had felonies.

And there was a push under the Obama administration not to have to check a box every time you were trying to return to society, having been promised an opportunity once rehabilitation occurs and deterrence and punishment, that something will consistently hang over your head for the rest of your life. Might the sorrow you feel translate to a second opportunity to go beyond what has taken place in the last 48 hours or weeks?

O'LEARY: I wish I could come by eye with you on this. I really do.

COATES: No smores and roasted marshmallows for you and I, obviously.

O'LEARY: No, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Life is hard, then you die. So, you really have to think about the decisions you make. And I urge young people today to understand the world they live in. There are hundreds of thousands of people competing for great jobs. And the minute you put yourself in this precarious position where you're filmed in AI, 4K, 1080p, forever, for the rest of your life, you're tainted.

I'm sorry. I actually, I feel the weight. I feel so bad for these people. They have no idea what they're doing to their future. They are tainting their personal brands forever.

COATES: But let me tell you what your colleague --

O'LEARY: I'm not against their passion.

COATES: I hear you, but I want to just read to you, I know we have limited time, but I just wanted to read to you a statement that your former fellow Shark Tank member, Mark Cuban, actually provided to our show. He said, "Business is like Dory. It quickly forgets what is inconvenient."

This suggests, in some respects, that there's more or less some bluster, and that if a business wanted to overlook something for its own corporate benefit or otherwise, if they wanted to lean into a movement or lean away from a movement, it's kind of their Bobby Brown prerogative. What's your reaction? By the way, Bobby Brown was a great R&B singer from the '90s.

O'LEARY: It's great and you know I -- I love this, and Mark can hire them all. It's just fantastic because I won't be hiring any of them. COATES: Really? Okay. Well, it's interesting to hear your perspective, and I think it's one that we have not heard as a different way to approach the consequences of what has happened. I do wonder, though, in the grand scheme of things, those who are as impassioned as we have obviously seen, and I'm not going to comment at the moment on the nature of where that passion is directed, whether they're thinking in the way that you are describing and thinking as a potential employer. Kevin O'Leary, nice to talk to you. Oh, go ahead. I knew you're going to have the last word.

O'LEARY: You two, and I will say this. No, no, no, listen. Tonight, let's kumbaya. Let's be proud of these people and their passions. You hire them. I won't. Thank you.

COATES: All right, well, there you go. No marshmallows happening in the CNN studio. Thank you, Kevin O'Leary.

O'LEARY: Take care.

COATES: Police at UCLA are declaring an unlawful assembly, a sign that they could be about to move in to clear the pro-Palestinian protesters. There's live coverage ahead.

Plus, new criticism for President Biden. Should he be doing more to speak out against these unruly protesters?


And if so, when should he do it? Stay with us.


COATES: We continue to follow breaking news tonight out of UCLA. Law enforcement has declared an unlawful assembly for a pro-Palestinian encampment at the university's quad. Now, that's often the final step before ordering people to disperse or even face arrest. And we're watching right now the footage. We see officers on the left who have riot gear on, the face masks, et cetera, on the left.

On the right, we seem to see areas where there's a concentration of people and the encampment areas.


They are presently not appearing to act in carrying out any specific orders. But, of course, we are still watching right now. And we've got CNN's Nick Watt on the UCLA campus. Nick, I want to bring you back in here because we're watching some of the footage. You are actually on the campus. All your senses are there. Tell me what you are seeing, what's going on. What is the atmosphere like?

WATT: Well, Laura, since we last spoke, even more LAPD officers wearing riot gear have staged in this buffer zone between the encampment and another group of pro-Palestinian protesters. These officers are facing outwards, not towards the encampment. They are facing towards the growing crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters who know the rumor that there is going to be a raid on this camp at some point.

Now, the California Highway Patrol has also been here today. This, of course, is state land. The California Highway Patrol is the agency that backs up campus security. So perhaps that might be the agency that actually moves into the encampment at some point.

I'm also hearing from my friend Josh Campbell that buses are being staged in a parking lot near here. We have seen that in other encampment sweeps where law enforcement stages buses near the area in preparation for loading people who are arrested onto those vehicles. So right now, LAPD, as I say, facing outwards. We have not seen any movement towards the encampment itself, but we are seeing this line of LAPD officers being reinforced quite heavily, even just in the few minutes, Laura, since you and I last spoke. Thank you.

COATES: Nick, you're so right. We're watching that line, which began initially them trying to separate arm's length apart, and now it seems to be doubled over and reinforcement there. I just want to be clear, the encampment itself, there are people presently inside of those tents or in the area of the encampment as well?

WATT: Correct. I mean, we can't guess how many because they put up barricades, so we can't see in. Estimates that we've had earlier were of about 100 people. I would imagine it could be more at this point. Yes, so there are distinct groups here. I mean, Tom, if you pan over, you can't really see the encampment because it's dark now, but in there, that is the core of the encampment. It's been there a week. I estimate 100 people or more in there.

And then we now have seen over the evening, as the rumor has swirled, that there's going to be a raid on that camp. These crowds of other pro-Palestinian protesters have gathered on the east side and on the west side. On one side, they've actually linked arms as if to try and prevent any incursion into that encampment.

On this side, they're being kept back behind this barrier. So, there's the barrier, and then, as we've talked about many times, there is this line, this ever-increasing line of LAPD officers just standing, staring at those protesters. They clearly do not want those protesters to get anywhere near the encampment.

The problem here is going to be, if they do go into that encampment, to try and keep these crowds out of the equation. So that is, I believe, why we are seeing so many of these LAPD officers' line up, as we are. Laura?

COATES: Nick, really important to have your eyes and ears on the scene. I want to bring in former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, and CNN political commentator and senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and actually UCLA alum, right, Karen Finney? So, first of all, take me into what this must be like. The tension to me, just hearing about this and watching this --


COATES: The numbers seem to be in favor of the protesters compared to even the officers, who are likely, obviously, armed. But what's happening in your mind?

FINNEY: Well, so, you know, UCLA is an open campus, unlike Columbia or Harvard. You can't just close the gates and close everybody off. And so, I imagine that part of what they are dealing with is people coming from all over, not just, and we were hearing reports of that earlier today.

The encampment, I think we're assuming, is mostly students. But that quad, so there's a grassy part, and then there's, you know, literally a quad. And it looks to me as though what they're trying to do is maybe preparing to push people out, away from where the encampment is, and then perhaps they'll go into the encampment so that they can deal with the encampment without having, as Nick said, to have to deal with the others on the outside.

COATES: So, we're seeing this play out, obviously, in real time, happening right now as we are watching this and the tension rising. You know who else is probably watching? The White House. I mean, they're undoubtedly looking at this. Politicians across the spectrum and the aisle are looking at what's going on. Everyone has an opinion about what ought to be done and what ought to be said.

Joe, you've been a member of Congress watching what you're seeing. What do you think is going on among your former colleagues?


JOE WALSH, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I think the president, I say this, Laura, as someone who wants Joe Biden re-elected. We are at each other's throats in this country right now. The American people are afraid and they see unrest and chaos on their TVs and phones every single day. Where is the president? This is not a normal time.

The other guy running for president, Donald Trump, is out there saying, I'm going to be a dictator. I'll be a dictator to stop this. I mean, Trump wants the chaos. Biden's got to get out there and step up and explain what's going on.

COATES: What do you think about what Biden -- I mean, Biden has come out to say something that's wrong. He's talked about Netanyahu, but you see a tension between what he's able to say and what he is.

FINNEY: I do. I mean, look, I think part of the tension is he has also pretty much been the only person trying to get the hostages out, trying to negotiate with Netanyahu to prioritize releasing the hostages. And that is still a priority. We don't even know how many there may be left.

COATES: Because it includes Americans as well.

FINNERY: Correct. But also, he's trying to bring about a ceasefire and peace and trying to negotiate with the other neighbors in the Middle East to try to come up if there can be a two-state solution can we have peace in the Middle East? It feels so Pollyanna to say that, but you've got to try.

COATES: But that's all behind closed doors.

FINNEY: Right. And that's very different than a public conversation. However, to Joe's point, you know, earlier today I said I didn't think he should get involved. I actually, I changed my mind because I think, and Alyssa Farah Griffin made this point, he could use these remarks next week to remind, particularly he's going to be at the Holocaust Museum, remind us of what happens when hate goes too far.

We know that the Nazis came to the United States of America to study Jim Crow when they were constructing the Nuremberg Laws. So, we know, and this is a global problem, and America's at each other's throats, we have a global hate problem. Talk about, again, let's not lose the through line of what is happening, what we're trying to get to, why hate speech is not acceptable, nor is violence, nor is this kind of, you know, what we've been subjected to under Trump and others where its violent rhetoric is sort of being normalized.

So, I do think that's the opportunity. Remind us, what are we trying to achieve here? We're trying to achieve peace.

WALSH: There's an opportunity here for him.


WALSH: He needs to do it.

COATES: Wait until next week to do it or immediately?

WALSH: Oh, God no, I would have done it a week ago. I would have been outside of Columbia yesterday. I mean, I'm exaggerating. But he needs -- the American people need to see that he's up to it and that he's not the guy who's saying I'm going to be a dictator. So, stop it.

COATES: We have more about this on the other side of the break, and we'll talk about what Trump has said to say about this. It's likely easier if you're the person criticizing as opposed to the one who is trying to do. Joe, Karen, stick around. We're watching an ongoing situation unfolding at UCLA, a growing police presence tonight as an unlawful assembly is declared at the campus. We'll be right back.



COATES: We're continuing to follow breaking news tonight out of Los Angeles. A tense standoff on the UCLA campus where law enforcement has declared an unlawful assembly for a pro-Palestinian encampment at the university's quad. Now declaring a gathering unlawful is a step police typically take before ordering people to disperse or face arrest.

And just look at the presence of officers that you see on the campus where you would normally see students walking back and forth. You see a heavy police presence. They are sitting in the ready position, many of them looking at the crowds around them. I want to go back to CNN's Nick Watt on the UCLA campus. Nick, what are you learning? WATT: Well, Laura, I have heard from a source the basics of the plan.

The LAPD, as we've been saying, is outward facing. They are dealing with the crowds of pro-Palestinian protesters who have gathered around the encampment. The LA County Sheriff's Department will also be brought in to help deal with this crowd. This crowd is bigger than was previously anticipated.

The California Highway Patrol, a state agency, this is state land, they will actually be going into the encampment. And there is a concern going into the encampment of biohazard. There is a lot of human waste, they believe, in there. And they also believe that some of those people inside that encampment have bear spray. So, I'm told it will be a very slow and a very methodical process. Laura?

COATES: Nick, just hearing that is very reminiscent for so many people of January 6th and officers who were up against bear spray, officers who were up against tension. Now, obviously, the different circumstances, there is a distinction. But these officers now must be, if they're aware of what you described, that takes on a very different tone about what they anticipate and the level of force that they may anticipate using.

Again, this feels like a very, very surreal powder keg that might increase tensions. I want to bring in CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. We'll come back to Nick in just a moment. Andrew McCabe, you're hearing this, the idea that they believe that bear spray and biohazard might be there, human waste we're talking about, that could be used against officers.

I'm trying to wrap my mind around what the officers may have been briefed on. You've got coordination from different law enforcement entities, one that's going to actually go in and try to clear out an encampment that has people in it.


And then the other is trying to perhaps fend off what could be an impending reaction from those who are onlookers. Tell me about your reaction to the strategy that Nick just laid out for us. Is it a sound strategy?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think we're about to find out, right? I mean, the tension is clearly, you know, unbelievably high, I'm sure, on both sides at this point, Laura. So, you know, I think the arrangement that Nick walked through for us is really what you would expect to find in a situation like this. It's basically the result of what we call mutual aid agreements, which are basically understandings between different law enforcement agencies that will come in and essentially back each other up when one of them has a job or a crisis or a response that overwhelms their personnel capacity.

That's clearly what we have here in the case of the UCLA Police Department. So, they're being backed up by the state police, the Los Angeles County Police, the L.A. County Sheriffs, and I'm quite sure every other law enforcement entity they can find at this point. And so, the way to run that logically and effectively is to kind of divide up tasks in the way that Nick described. So, none of that really surprises me.

But you have to put yourself in the minds of these men and women who are standing there in the dark in riot gear and masks facing this massive crowd, which probably outnumbers them by several fold. And they have been briefed along the lines that we've heard. They've been briefed about the things that they are likely to encounter inside the camp or likely to encounter from the crowd that surrounds them that will potentially react, you know, aggressively and maybe even violently to their entry into the camp.

All the hazards that Nick spoke about, potential bear spray, human waste, biohazards. And let's not forget about aggressive people who are very passionate about what they're there for, who may want to not leave under any circumstances whatsoever, who may also be armed with any other sorts of weapons that police typically encounter day to day in law enforcement life in America.

So, the police officers are going into this thing at, you know, the dial is turned up to 11 as the expression goes. And the tension itself can really put us on the precipice of some reactions that will likely be very hard to watch.

COATES: I mean, as you describe that, two things come to mind. One is that the only thing that appears to be keeping the protesters or those who are onlookers away from these areas of the quad are bicycle racks. And it seems a level of willpower and restraint. And that can easily all disappear at the drop of a dime that causes me to be concerned. The other part about it is we're talking about officers who are trained to meet resistance very differently than the average person.

How many years have you and I been talking about the use of force continuum that an officer is instructed, is trained, is in many instances required to use? The idea of using that amount of force to repel the commensurate level of force used against you, meeting lethal force with lethal force, the often interpretation of what could be lethal or deadly and then having it met in return.

There are real concerns about the training these officers have and what could happen if they feel overrun by protesters. That's got to be part of the consideration and what maybe a debriefing or a pre- briefing must have anticipated.

MCCABE: Absolutely. And, you know, in terms of your comments about the barricades, we all saw how wildly ineffective those barricades could be when on one side of them, you have a highly motivated, passionate, kind of inflamed, massive crowd, right? That's what we saw --

COATES: Oh, wait, Andrew. I'm hearing -- I want to break in -- hold on. I have some breaking news, Andrew. The Los Angeles Police Department has just issued a citywide tactical alert. And what that means that all LAPD personnel, they're now going to be on notice that they could be called up to assist if needed throughout the night.

That is hugely significant about what they anticipate the rest of this evening looking like. Can you imagine a citywide and LAPD department wide tactical alert? Tell me about the urgency of this.

MCCABE: Well, Laura, the LAPD is a is a large law enforcement institution, about 9000 sworn officers.


So, what we know now from that alert is that they think they might need all of them. And I'm sure that law enforcement leaders in the LAPD and among their colleagues across the law enforcement community in L.A. are considering what could happen as a result of hostilities, not just here on the quad at the encampment, not just in the crowd that's surrounding the encampment, but they're anticipating the possibility of kind of hostilities and aggression breaking out in other parts of the city.

They are thinking forward to think we might need more people to be able to respond to other places around the city that could, who knows, erupt in violence. We saw last night how toxic the interaction is between these kinds of pro-Palestinian protesters and the counter protesters, many of whom are there kind of representing the interests of Israel in this geopolitically inspired conflict.

And so those are hostilities that literally could break out any place around L.A. As you know, people watch this. They watch this standoff. They watch -- they will watch what happens and they could react very strongly to that. So, I think it's an appropriate move for the LAPD to put their folks on notice to say, be ready. You can be called in at any time.

COATES: I mean, we're talking about Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, the most populous in the nation, it seems. It's more than according to the data and census data. I think it's more than 9 million residents in L.A. County. You just described 9000 officers who are told to be at the ready. Now, obviously, there is no indication that all of L.A. County would be against the police or pose any significant risk to the officers' ability to maintain the public safety and calm.

But just the sheer proportion and number is overwhelming to consider as we are continuing, as you and I are speaking, to see a number of people that has grown from a size when we first began our broadcast 46 minutes ago, a fraction of the people that we are now seeing the actual pavement underneath the feet that was once able to be readily seen in the street. Now, of course, it seems to be crowded with people and the same officer's reinforcement and the lines looking at this crowd.

But just think back, America, as you were seeing 47 minutes ago, you saw more pavement. Now you see civilians and you have officers with a tactical alert, not to the tune of 9,000 people. We have much more to come. Stay with us. More live coverage in UCLA as police are preparing to order pro-Palestinian protesters to leave. We've got a UCLA professor joining us after this moment.


[23:52:28] COATES: Our breaking news tonight out of Los Angeles, the tense standoff at the UCLA campus between police and protesters. A source says the LAPD has issued a citywide tactical alert. Why? Because of an unlawful assembly they have declared on the campus of UCLA because of the encampment. And that means this alert means that all LAPD personnel are now on notice, that they could be called up to assist if needed at any time throughout the night.

I want to bring in UCLA professor Dov Waxman who is a professor of Israeli studies. Professor Waxman, thank you for being here with us. We are watching all of this unfold. We are seeing more than 100 law enforcement officers poised to break up this pro-Palestinian encampment tonight, and the number increasing as well as the number of people outside of these bicycle and orange cone barricades. Tell me, what is happening there now?

DOV WAXMAN, PROFESSOR, UCLA: Well, it seems that the police are arriving in very large numbers. Apparently, they're about to quite soon to try to clear this encampment. And I think there's a large number of onlookers, many, many students who have come out to express solidarity with the protesters inside the encampment. Other people not from UCLA are showing up on campus.

It's a very tense situation that you use the word surreal earlier in your report. And I think that catches my feeling looking at these scenes at a campus that is normally a place of quiet study and work to see, you know, swarms of police officers to see these tense scenes. It's really deeply depressing.

COATES: I can't imagine what it's like and the tension. And it seems palpable from my distance here in Washington, D.C., just looking at it over our screens. I'm sure many Americans are feeling similarly as the tension is rising. And we know there were violence and clashes on campus just last night between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups. Has the university, did they anticipate this was happening? Did they wait too long to act?

WAXMAN: I think the university tried to ensure that this protest encampment could continue as long as it remained peaceful and didn't disrupt the university.


And the protesters within that were largely abiding by that. There were issues on the outskirts of the protest encampment. But what happened last night was really -- took things to a different level when a large number of looks like outside agitators, masked men arrived and basically attacked this protest camp. That really sparked, you know, scenes of violence that are really shocking.

And as a result of that, the result of the attack against the protest encampment by these apparently, you know, outside agitators, I don't think they were members of UCLA community. I don't think they were students. But that has really escalated tension and is now, I think, resulting in a situation where there is no safety to the students inside the encampment or to students outside the encampment. So, I don't think this was something that the administration really wanted to avoid, the kind of scenes we've seen at Columbia and other places.

COATES: Of course.

WAXMAN: But their hand seems to have been forced.

COATES: And here we are watching this unfold, many hearts and throats waiting for what might come next. Professor Dov Waxman, thank you so much.

WAXMAN: Thank you.

COATES: And thank you all for watching. We will continue to follow this developing and tense situation at UCLA. Anderson Cooper 360 is next.