Campus, local organizations host ‘Shut It Down for Palestine’ protest at UCLA
Protesters in support of Palestine march through Bruin Walk. The event was held to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)
This post was updated Nov. 12 at 9:50p.m.
Over 100 people gathered in Bruin Plaza on Thursday for a demonstration in support of Palestine.
The event, which began at noon, was hosted by Students for Socialism at UCLA, alongside other Southern California organizations, such as Students for Justice in Palestine at Irvine Valley College and the Los Angeles chapter of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition. It featured chants, a march through campus to Murphy Hall and speakers calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
According to the Associated Press, militant group and Palestinian political party Hamas attacked Israeli villages Oct. 7, continuing attacks on the region since then. In response, Israel launched a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip as well as bombings and airstrikes that have collectively killed over 10,000 people as of Wednesday, according to AP. On Thursday, Israel announced it would implement daily four-hour humanitarian pauses in its attacks on northern Gaza.
Members of the crowd wore masks and keffiyehs and chanted phrases such as “From UCLA to Palestine, occupation is a crime,” “From the sea to the river, Palestine will live forever,” and “Viva, viva Palestina.”
An organizer for the event affiliated with Students for Socialism at UCLA, who was granted anonymity for safety reasons, said the protest was hosted as part of “Shut It Down for Palestine,” an international walkout at schools and workplaces to support a free Palestine. They added that they believe it is important for workers to stand in solidarity with the liberation movement for Palestine.
“Our goal with this demonstration is just to show student and worker solidarity,” they said. “We also want to make sure that the UC protects Arab students from anti-Arab violence in light of all these events.”
A speaker at the rally and member of the organization Healthcare Workers for Palestine LA, who was granted anonymity for safety reasons, said they attended the event to call for the liberation of Palestine. They said during the event that members of the group, which includes over 150 health care workers across LA, believe they cannot fulfill their jobs when United States taxpayer dollars are funding Israeli violence in the Gaza Strip.
They also said that as health care workers, many members of the group feel they must speak out about the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Trucks delivering humanitarian aid have recently been unable to enter Gaza because of damage caused by Israeli bombing, according to AP.
“We all became doctors because we believe in human rights and justice for all. And there is an unbelievable human rights crisis unfolding on our screens and … in real life in Palestine right now,” they said. “We all took an oath to do no harm, and we can’t just sit silently.”
A student who was granted anonymity for safety reasons said they attended the event to join other students in holding institutions, such as the U.S. government, accountable for their involvement in the war. The UC is the third-largest employer in the state of California and as such has the power to make an impact, they said.
Skye, a health care worker who was granted partial anonymity for safety reasons, said she found out about the rally on social media after moving to LA four days ago. She added that she hopes the protest will raise awareness about the violence in Gaza.
“If you have the time and you have the energy and you have the privilege, … you need to spend it where it’s most needed right now – and that’s the communities in Palestine and in Gaza,” she said.
The protest also coincided with another event being held at Bruin Plaza by conservative group Turning Point USA.
Cindy Cordova, a staff member at the David Geffen School of Medicine, said she is opposed to all loss of life and decided to attend the protest in part after seeing a doctor speak about the war in Gaza. She added that as a medical staff member, she wishes she was able to do more for people in Palestine.
Cordova also said she is hoping that the rally will lead to greater action around LA and across the country.
“I’m just devastated with what’s happening in Gaza, and seeing that, there needs to be a ceasefire,” she said. “I hope it ignites other protests around the country, around Los Angeles, and hopefully it’ll reach the White House, and President Biden will stop what he’s doing.”