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Op-ed: Faculty stands with pro-Palestine protesters, demands full amnesty for all arrested

By UCLA Faculty for Justice in Palestine

May 2, 2024 1:09 p.m.

This post was updated May 2 at 9:06 p.m.

As Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, we call upon the governor of California, the mayor of Los Angeles, the University of California system and all other complicit authorities to grant full legal, academic and disciplinary amnesty for all protesters.

Today, as Israel bombs a forcibly starved population in Rafah amid the ongoing genocide, a brutal and armed multiagency crackdown was launched on students at UCLA. Within the Liberated Zone, as part of their protest of genocide and apartheid, students had only food, medical aid, books, tents they were sleeping in and each other.

Over the last week, self-professed Zionist agitators arrived on the scene and repeatedly tormented the students in ways akin to torture techniques, using blaring lights and loud music. At one point, a backpack of swollen mice was released by an outside instigator into the camp. Throughout the week, a jumbotron screen was screening violent and triggering videos.

On Tuesday night, April 30, a self-professed Zionist mob – joined by white supremacists – in Halloween masks attacked the protective boundaries of the camp, threw objects and launched fireworks at students and over their tents, assaulted students with plywood, bear mace and pepper spray, and physically attacked student and faculty protesters, as well as journalists – including student journalists from the Daily Bruin.

One student had blood gushing from an open wound on his head. As a result of injuries, several students had to receive emergency medical care. No police force prevented Tuesday night’s mob assault on students, and all agitators walked away from the scene without consequence.

In the early hours of Thursday morning on May 2, armed multiagency police forces descended in droves upon campus to clear the Palestine solidarity camp. A sniper on at least one of the campus rooftops was confirmed.

In Los Angeles, the history of racialized police violence and police shootings is well-established, and the decision to send hundreds of armed police into campus – to clear a protest that has been entirely peaceful – is both dangerous and trauma-inducing for many students and faculty. Freedom of speech and assembly are claimed as inherent in the fabric of this so-called democracy, yet the university and local and state authorities have repeatedly failed to protect the students and their rights.

Universities are intended to be bastions of learning, academic freedom and innovation. Administrators have a grave responsibility to protect students, which they have utterly failed to do. No police force should be storming campus to suppress political speech. The university had every opportunity to prevent this.

Despite the resilience of students to adhere to their values around human rights and the sanctity of human life, whether a student is directly onsite or watching the live reels, the presence of police in riot gear on campus and the uncertainty about the safety of their peers are themselves traumatic. The willful disregard of Zionist mob violence against students and the criminalization of protest speech at UCLA is unconscionable.

The students’ demands are reasonable, justified and reiterated by many faculty members. Neither our universities nor our taxes should be connected to perpetuating the brutal and unlawful military occupation imposed on the Palestinian people. To stand up against genocide and apartheid is something for which these students should be commended, not punished.

Faculty for Justice in Palestine asks all faculty to join us in a work stoppage on Thursday, May 2, 2024. All faculty and students must be released immediately and given full amnesty.

UCLA Faculty for Justice in Palestine is part of a decentralized, national network of affiliated campus chapters whose faculty and staff members support the cause of Palestinian liberation through education, advocacy and action. To contact UCLA Faculty for Justice in Palestine, email [email protected].

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