Tensions at the University of California, Irvine campus escalated Wednesday as a group of several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters entered a lecture hall and surrounded the building, according to school officials.

The Irvine Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department were called to the scene after the university called for mutual aid from local law enforcement agencies, UC Irvine said in an emergency update.

Authorities have begun making arrests, though the number is unknown during the active situation.

PHOTO: In this screen grab from a video, pro-Palestinian demonstrators stand in front of a line of police as they clear an encampment at the University of California, Irvine, in Irvine, Calif., on May 15, 2025.

In this screen grab from a video, pro-Palestinian demonstrators stand in front of a line of police as they clear an encampment at the University of California, Irvine, in Irvine, Calif., on May 15, 2025.

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Police are beginning to tear down barricades from the encampment and move into the building.

Protesters entered the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall on the UC Irvine campus at approximately 2:30 p.m. local time, according to the university.

PHOTO: A pro-Palestinian demonstrator clash is arrested by police as an encampment is cleared after occupying and barricading the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall at the University of California, Irvine, in Irvine, Calif., on May 15, 2025.

A pro-Palestinian demonstrator clash is arrested by police as an encampment is cleared after occupying and barricading the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall at the University of California, Irvine, in Irvine, Calif., on May 15, 2025.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Classes for the remainder of the day were canceled and school officials urged anyone in the immediate area to evacuate until further notice.

“Anyone currently in buildings in the vicinity of the protest are advised to exit buildings & leave area at this time,” UC Irvine wrote in an update on X. “Please disregard all previous orders to shelter in place. If able, please leave immediately & continue to avoid the protest area until further notice.”

PHOTO: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators stand in front of a line of police as they clear an encampment after students occupied the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall at the University of California, Irvine, in Irvine, Calif., on May 15, 2025.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators stand in front of a line of police as they clear an encampment after students occupied the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall at the University of California, Irvine, in Irvine, Calif., on May 15, 2025.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Pro-Palestinian protesters have been present on the UC Irvine campus since establishing an encampment on April 29, according to the university.

Wednesday’s unrest comes amid weeks of protests breaking out at universities across the country, calling for institutions to divest from companies that financially support Israel.

On Tuesday, UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher announced that investments from companies that students are targeting in their call for divestment represent $32 billion, which is nearly one-fifth, of the UC system’s overall assets.

Last month, the University of California president said the institutions would not boycott or divest from Israel.

ABC News’ Marilyn Heck and Vanessa Navarrete contributed to this report.





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