Student Movement for Palestine at UCLA

Ndindi Kitonga

Summary: Pro-Palestine protestors subject to racist and misogynist attacks by sometimes violent Zionist counter demonstrators – Editors

The UCLA student Pro-Palestinian Gaza Solidarity encampment went up on Thursday, April 25, 2024. Students Justice for Palestine (SJP), Indigenous, Black, Latine, Asian, Muslim, housing justice, disability justice, and abolitionist student organizations are leading this effort.

Student demands:

  • “Disclose” investments in Israel and complicit companies and institutions;
  • “Divest” from those companies and institutions;
  • “Abolish policing” by ending the “targeted repression” of Palestinian advocacy on campus and by severing ties with the LAPD;
  • “End the silence” by calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to the occupation and genocide in Palestine;
  • “Boycott” Israel by severing all UC-wide connections to Israeli universities, including study-abroad programs, and by shutting down the school’s Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.

The encampment has been growing steadily with more students showing up to occupy it.

Students have organized the encampment around their collective needs and have many safety protocols. The Gaza Solidarity encampment hosts food stations, medical stations, free libraries, art-making stations, and healing spaces among others.

The students have been dealing with counter-protestors since the inception of the encampment. Thus far there have been daily encounters with Zionists, some of which have become violent, and nighttime disturbances with loud music as well as a release of mice into the encampment. For safety’s sake, the encampment is now completely barricaded and students have developed procedures for admission.

At the encampment, students engage in: teach-ins, political education, medical, know-your-rights, and other skillshares.

I was at UCLA yesterday Sunday, April 28, 2024. What I witnessed was deeply disturbing.

  • The rally in support of Israel also played loud music, including the American and Israeli national anthems. It was partially funded by a GoFundMe that had raised over $73,000 from more than 700 donations as of 6 p.m. Sunday”.
  • The Zionists rented a giant jumbotron and concert-standard equipment, and they trumpeted this as loudly as possible. Many of us wore earplugs to protect our hearing.
  • Zionists instigated fights, harassed people, and spent hours yelling antisemitic, homophobic, anti-Black epithets at us, as we had to form a human chain to prevent them from rushing the encampment. Many women (particularly BIPOC) were harassed.
  • People were accosted or physically hit in parking lots as they were leaving.
  • There was a Jewish Defense League presence at the protest which the SPLC has categorized as a hate group.
  • One protestor carrying a poster depicting Soros as the puppetmaster of the Free Palestine movement, leaning into this old antisemitic trope.
  • ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt attended the rally. He has consistently made false claims that “Iran has their military proxies like Hezbollah, and Iran has their campus proxies like these groups like SJP and JVP” which have been heavily condemned by pro-Palestinian groups but given little attention elsewhere.
  • TW Video: 1) Zionist protestor calls someone the n-word and spits at him after failing to start a fight, 2) Black Pro-Palestinian protestors called “animals” and were told to “go back to their masters” by Zionist protestors:
  • LAPD did not come on campus but the UCPD was involved.
  • Several counter-protestors attempted to enter the encampment which at that point had been barricaded by student protestors to protect the site.
  • No arrests but it was very heated and some protestors were injured.
  • Despite what happened yesterday, the encampment lives on!

UCLA’s response to the Sunday, April 28 events was:

“This morning, a group of demonstrators breached a barrier that the university had established separating two groups of protestors on our campus, resulting in physical altercations. UCLA has a long history of being a place of peaceful protest, and we are heartbroken about the violence that broke out.” (4/28)


“We have since instituted additional security measures and increased the numbers of our safety team members on site.” (4/29)

  • Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications

The school administration did not acknowledge the serious harm and violence UCLA student protestors and their community supporters experienced from the Zionist groups that took over their campus.

Most mainstream outlets are also not acknowledging the violence wrought by Zionists even while video evidence of the entire day exists and was live-streamed. The social media evidence of the violence has been trending on several platforms with many outraged and prompted to act based on what they’re witnessing.

On Monday, April 29, 2024 students and faculty at UCLA heard the encampment’s call for a walkout for Gaza and in solidarity with the protesting students. Faculty, staff, and students convened at Royce Hall for speeches of encouragement (some given by faculty), discussion, art, and music-making. Faculty held signs that read “Walk out for Gaza”, “Faculty for Justice for Palestine,” “Invest in Education not War” and “UCLA Faculty and Staff, We Stand with Our Students”.

The encampment is beautiful and has grown. In their anti-imperialist internationalist anti-capitalist movement work, students are condemning Israel’s genocide on Gaza and the U.S. ideological and material support of it. Beyond condemnations, they are willing to put themselves on the line for demands that would make real on-the-ground changes to not only what goes on in Palestine and surrounding regions but to the trajectory of the U.S. They understand that fascism must be stomped out and not be allowed to take root. Their resolve, creativity, clarity, and theorizing are inspiring and should rouse even the cynics among us. What a time!


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1 Comment

  1. Sam Friedman

    In 1970, after the invasion of Cambodia by the US and the National Guard killings of protesting students at Kent State, but before the police killings of students at Jackson State, students and faculty at UCLA had huge demonstrations and seized at least one building. UCLA and the governor of the State sent a wave of cops onto campus to shut it down and physically attack protestors. One faculty member was seriously injured by them.
    The result was that for the rest of the Quarter, we had a broadly observed campus strike with lots of good political education and radicalization.
    I have always looked back on this set of actions as a high point in my early life and education. I applaud those taking part in these demos. At Rutgers, near where I live, the students won 8 of 10 demands without violence by either Zionist thugs or by police. The media, of course, framed it as their backing down under threat.