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“They Will Never Forget”: Report on the Struggle to Defend the Palestinian Solidarity Camp at UCLA

photo by Shay horse

In this episode of the It’s going down podcast we are joined by a guest who discusses the mass mobilization in defense of the Palestine Solidarity Encampment at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA, which was attacked on April 30 by far-right Zionists and then by hundreds of riot police on May 1, which made more than 200 violent arrests.

During our conversation, our guest explains how the UCLA encampment grew in the face of continued intimidation and attacks from far-right pro-Israel counterprotesters. These attacks escalated on April 30, when a group of Zionists attacked barricades erected around the encampment, in full view of security and police, who left the area and watched the attack. As people defended themselves against violent counter-protesters, clashes escalated and continued into the early morning. The next day, police then used the attack as context to carry out a violent raid on the encampment, shooting and wounding students and community members with projectile weapons.

Like the New York Times wrote:

An examination of more than a hundred videos of clashes at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that violence ebbed and flowed for nearly five hours, usually with little or no police intervention. The violence was caused by dozens of (extreme right-wing Zionists) who can be seen in videos protesting against the encampment.

The videos showed counter-protesters attacking students in the pro-Palestinian camp for hours, beating them with sticks, using chemical sprays and firing fireworks as weapons. As of Friday, no arrests had been made in connection with the attack.

The fighting began when a group of counter-protesters began tearing away metal barriers placed to seal off pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Hours earlier, UCLA officials had declared the camp illegal.

Security personnel hired by the university are seen wearing yellow vests on the side throughout the incident. A university spokesperson declined to comment on the security staff’s response.

Police fire riot rifles at the UCLA encampment.

TruthOut reported:

Los Angeles Times higher education journalist Teresa Watanabe reported that members of the pro-Israel mob used explicitly genocidal language as they tore down the encampments and shouted, “Second Nakba!” – a reference to the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948.

“For more than seven hours, Zionist aggressors threw gas canisters, sprayed pepper spray and threw fireworks and stones into our compound,” organizers said. “They have repeatedly breached our barriers, clearly in an attempt to murder our community.”

“The law enforcement officers simply stood at the edge of the lawn and refused to budge as we screamed for their help,” the statement continued. “The only protection we had was each other. We keep each other safe.”

The Daily Brownwhere student reporters were on the scene, reported that “security and UCPD both retreated as pro-Israel counter-protesters and other groups attacked demonstrators in the encampment.”

As we discuss in the podcast, the far-right Zionist and police violence on full display at UCLA exposes the false claims of the Biden administration and campus leaders across the country; The increasing police repression of campus demonstrations is aimed at crushing the anti-war movement that threatens US military interests, not at “protecting students” or ensuring their “safety.”

The successful mass defense of the UCLA encampment against the far right is a turning point for the movement. As one person posted on social media after the clashes: “Everyone at UCLA should be incredibly proud of themselves. Fighting the police is where all our movements should go, and they are right to do it and brave to face it.” Another account added: “There were thousands of people at UCLA who did not retreat and fought to defend the camp. We will never forget what that evening was like. So many people showed up in solidarity.” During our conversation, we talk about the dynamics on the ground, the different forces at play, and where the movement might go.

Music: No$hu, “The Bonk Song”