UC Berkeley police car burned, possibly in support of Palestine

UC Berkeley officials declined to comment on the matter and referred all inquiries to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

UC Berkeley police car burned, possibly in support of Palestine
A UC Berkeley police vehicle was set on fire over the weekend. Ariel Nava Photo

An anonymous individual has taken credit for setting a police car on fire at UC Berkeley over the weekend "in solidarity" with Palestine.

UC Berkeley officials have declined to comment on the matter and referred all inquiries to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

In a brief WarnMe statement over the weekend, UCPD said an "unknown race male … wearing all dark clothing" had set a police vehicle on fire on Barrows Lane just after 5 a.m. Saturday.

He "left the area eastbound Bancroft Way," police said. "The case is under investigation."

Barrows Lane is just east of UCPD's headquarters at Cal, inside Sproul Hall on the south side of campus on Bancroft Way.

On Saturday night, Abolition Media, "an online news source for revolutionary movements," posted photographs of the burned police vehicle along with a statement taking credit for it.

"This act was done in retaliation against UCPD, for their attack on students yesterday on a different campus and to retaliate against the University of California for its support for the zionist israel settler colony," according to the anonymous statement. "This attempt to torch a police car in front of the university was in solidarity with our Palestinian siblings assaulted by the zionist state in Rafah. It came from a place of love for Palestine, and love for revolution and liberation of all oppressed people."

The anonymous statement, entitled "Student Intifada as our Historical Duty: Fulfill it or Betray it," said the fire had been set at UC Berkeley "in solidarity" with pro-Palestinian activists at UC Santa Cruz, where 80 protesters were arrested amid recent demonstrations, and UCLA, following what Reuters described as a "violent, overnight mob attack on pro-Palestinian activists" who had made camp there.

Police arrest protesters who took over UC Berkeley building
From the start, UC Berkeley made it clear that the occupation would be treated as a crime scene rather than First Amendment activity.

The statement also referenced the recent, short-lived pro-Palestinian occupation of an unused UC Berkeley building next to People's Park.

According to the anonymous statement, "an incendiary device was placed below a UC Berkeley police vehicle parked in front of UCPD station. The device was lit underneath the back left wheel of a police SUV, placed between the tire and underside of fuel tank."

The photographs accompanying the statement appeared to show a heavily damaged UCPD SUV parked on Barrows Lane.

Posts on X and Instagram showing the burned car along with the anonymous political statement have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

UCPD's daily crime log entry about the arson report. UCPD

On Monday, UC Berkeley officials declined to say whether the widely circulated political statement taking credit for the arson had been deemed credible.

Authorities also did not respond to requests for photographs of the burned vehicle.

Bears for Palestine, the main UC Berkeley student group for Palestine, had not posted about the arson as of Monday afternoon. (Its most recent post was from mid-May.)

The state fire marshal's office had not responded to requests for comment as of publication time.

Update, 4:17 p.m. The fire marshal's office provided the following statement by email. It appears below in its entirety.

"At this time, the investigation is still ongoing. The fire started in the early hours of June 1, 2024, and no arrests have been made. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Arson and Bomb Unit at: arsonbomb@fire.ca.gov or (213) 302-5855."

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