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UCLA students, community members protest President Joe Biden’s Westwood visit

Pictured are protesters blocking the road. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

By Dylan Winward

Feb. 3, 2024 7:24 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 4 at 11:36 p.m. 

Students and community members protested President Joe Biden’s visit to Westwood on Saturday.

Although no detailed official schedule was released for the president’s visit, Deadline reported that Biden arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon to attend a meeting for his 2024 presidential campaign and greet Black leaders in the entertainment industry ahead of the Grammy Awards. Police restricted public access to Sunset Boulevard and Hilgard Avenue. 

Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA and UC Divest at UCLA shared a live video Saturday afternoon on Instagram titled “GENOCIDE JOE,” depicting cars driving around Westwood while passengers inside waved Palestinian flags.

A men’s basketball game between UCLA and the University of Oregon at Pauley Pavilion was delayed by around 25 minutes after traffic from the president’s visit caused the Ducks team to arrive late, according to the game’s television broadcast on ESPN.

Later that evening, around 75 protesters led by the Palestinian Youth Movement were stopped at the intersection of Hilgard Avenue and Le Conte Avenue, where the W Hotel is located. The road was blocked off by police heading toward the hotel, and around 100 Secret Service and LAPD officers were at the scene, some with riot gear and rubber bullets.

Pictured are police officers standing at a protest against President Joe Biden’s visit to Westwood. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

Protesters chanted “Biden, Biden, you’re a liar, we demand a ceasefire,” “Biden, Biden, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” and, “Biden, Biden, you will see, Palestine will be free.”

“As long as the protesters remain peaceful, we will just be monitoring,” LAPD Lieutenant Letisia Ruiz said.

Around 8 p.m., the LAPD issued a megaphone warning asking the protesters to clear the intersection. The protesters dispersed around 8:30 p.m. through intermittent rain.

Tharwa Khalid, a protester with PYM, said the focus of the protest was to show the United States government and Biden that protesters would not stop until a ceasefire is reached in Gaza.

“His war criminal history is not going to go unchecked, and he will be held accountable for being complicit in the genocide of the Palestinian people,” Khalid said. 

Pictured is a car with a Palestinian flag as part of the protest. (Emily Tang/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Members of the UCLA student organizations previously chanted slogans in December accusing the president of supporting a genocide in the Gaza Strip when he visited LA for an event for donors – including entertainment industry professionals – who support his re-election bid.

[Related: Protesters in Westwood accuse Biden, Starbucks of supporting genocide in Gaza]

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, leading to the deaths of more than 27,000 Palestinians, according to AP

At an on-campus SJP rally in November, protesters hit a piñata with a picture of Biden on it while criticizing the president’s response to the Israel-Hamas war. 

SJP and UC Divest did not respond immediately to requests for comment. 

Contributing reports by Joseph Jimenez, Matthew Royer and Emily Tang, Daily Bruin senior staff.

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Dylan Winward | News editor
Winward is the 2024-2025 News editor and an Arts, Copy, Photo, PRIME and Sports contributor. He was previously the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. Winward is a third-year English and statistics student from London in the United Kingdom.
Winward is the 2024-2025 News editor and an Arts, Copy, Photo, PRIME and Sports contributor. He was previously the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. Winward is a third-year English and statistics student from London in the United Kingdom.
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