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USAC leadership requests immediate removal of National Guard from UCLA area

The student government is calling on California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to remove National Guard presence from Westwood. (Jintak Han/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Bernard Mendez

June 1, 2020 5:29 p.m.

Student government is calling on the state to remove the National Guard presence near UCLA after several troops were seen in Westwood on Sunday.

Student leaders — led by the Undergraduate Students Association Council and the USAC Office of the External Vice President — are requesting that California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti remove the National Guard troops from Westwood. Garcetti requested 1,000 National Guard troops be sent to Los Angeles on Sunday in response to city-wide protests against police brutality.

Their request comes after multiple students confirmed the presence of National Guard troops at the intersection of Strathmore Drive and Levering Avenue around 8 p.m. on Sunday.

The EVP office plans to start a social media movement using the hashtags #NationalGuardOut and #DemilitarizeWestwood and is sending a letter to the governor’s and mayor’s offices, said Aidan Arasasingham, the 2020-2021 USAC EVP.

Their letter requests the immediate withdrawal of the National Guard from Westwood, stating their presence incites fear and concern in UCLA students.

The request comes amid a protest in Westwood, which, although canceled by the organizers, attracted dozens of protesters. The National Guard stationed several vehicles near the protest.

The office also released a petition for the removal of the national guard, which has since gotten over 1,000 signatures, Arasasingham said.

“It’s raising the important conversation about the militarization of the communities around UCLA and Los Angeles at a time when increased police and military presence is the opposite of what should be going on,” Arasasingham said.

[Related link: Protests erupt in Los Angeles in response to death of George Floyd]

Arasasingham said the presence of National Guard troops will disproportionately affect black students and black communities in LA, serving to only exacerbate feelings of unsafety among these groups.

LAPD Chief of Police Michel Moore said at a press conference Sunday that National Guard troops would be stationed near individual businesses and would not be patrolling neighborhoods.

A spokesperson for the LAPD declined to comment.

UCLA sent an email to students Sunday condemning George Floyd’s death, signed by many administrators including Chancellor Gene Block and Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck.

Arasasingham said he appreciated the administration’s email, but added it was the bare minimum.

“For any kind of actual action to be taken, it needs to be done through listening to and being transparent with and being held accountable by black student leaders at UCLA,” he said.

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Bernard Mendez | News editor
Mendez is the 2020-2021 News editor. He was previously a staff news reporter for the Science & Health beat and a developer for The Stack. He is also a third-year math student at UCLA.
Mendez is the 2020-2021 News editor. He was previously a staff news reporter for the Science & Health beat and a developer for The Stack. He is also a third-year math student at UCLA.
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