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Bruins in Paris

Protesters walk out, block traffic to oppose Israeli military’s invasion of Rafah

Pro-Palestine protesters block traffic at the intersection of Le Conte Avenue and Westwood Plaza. Several organizations, including Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA and United Auto Workers Local 4811 rank and file caucus members, planned the event. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)

By Alexandra Crosnoe and Sam Mulick

June 3, 2024 7:25 p.m.

This post was updated June 5 at 11:26 p.m.

Over 300 pro-Palestine protesters marched through campus and blocked traffic Monday to oppose the Israeli military’s invasion of Rafah – a city in the southern Gaza Strip – and demand UC divestment from Israel.

The walkout – planned by six organizations, including Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA and rank and file caucus members of United Auto Workers Local 4811 – began at noon in Dickson Plaza. Protesters chanted phrases such as “Long live the intifada” and “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest” as they walked to the Court of Sciences. 

Around 1:20 p.m., protesters then marched through South Campus to the intersection of Westwood Plaza and Le Conte Avenue. Protesters occupied the area, setting up tents and a line of caution tape to block cars in both directions on Westwood Plaza, and hosted a teach-in about union organizing and the war in Gaza.

A member of SJP said in a speech that pro-Palestine protesters will continue to disrupt campus activities until the University meets its demands and divests from Israel. 

“We have the responsibility to be unwavering in our solidarity and resistance,” they said. “We must answer the goals of the Palestinian resistance on the ground.”

A pro-Palestine protester speaks at a walkout in Dickson Plaza on Monday. The rally began at 12 p.m. with speeches from members of Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA. (Zoraiz Irshad/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Jeremy Reyes, a third-year statistics and data science student who participated in the walkout, said it is important to continue the momentum of the proPalestine movement following encampments on campus. He added that UCLA failed to protect its students.

“We will never forget what they allowed to happen to those protesters who really weren’t doing anything,” Reyes said. “They were being peaceful, and yet they got attacked by both far-right Zionists and police.”

William, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace at UCLA who did not provide their last name, said in a speech that a student arrested by UCPD on Wednesday during a UAW Local 4811 picket was allegedly first harassed by a public safety aide who told the student, “I’m going to beat the shit out of you.” They added that the student – who was charged with battery after striking a security officer’s hand – remained in custody for 24 hours and faced “extreme psychological abuse for being disabled and queer.”

[Related: UCPD arrests, charges student with battery]

Mary Osako, vice chancellor for strategic communications at UCLA, said in a written statement Monday that members of UAW Local 4811 blocked patients from accessing critical care in the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and prevented students from accessing campus.

“Why is the union punishing students who are just trying to learn – and have paid tuition fees to do so – and right before finals, when stress levels are at an all-time high?” she said in the statement. “These are real lives and real students, not targets in an union playbook.”

Yogita Goyal, a professor of African American studies and English, said she joined the walkout to support the strike and oppose the university’s treatment of protesters.

Pro-Palestine protesters walk down Westwood Plaza on Monday. Protesters gathered starting at 12 p.m. for a walkout to protest the Israeli military’s invasion of Rafah. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)

While occupying the intersection, Graeme Blair, a member of Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UCLA and the UCLA Faculty Association, said he stood in solidarity with striking members of UAW Local 4811 and the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which filed unfair labor practice charges against the UC for its treatment of members of their union when sweeping the encampment.

UCLAFA filed its own unfair labor practice charge against the UC Monday for its treatment of faculty in the encampment. 

[Related: UCLA Faculty Association files unfair labor practice charge against the UC]

The move came after UAW Local 4811 filed a similar charge May 3, alleging that the University failed its responsibility as an employer when it allowed police to use force on members of the union during the sweep of the Palestine solidarity encampment. The union voted to authorize a strike and called on UCLA members to begin striking Tuesday.

[Related: United Auto Workers Local 4811 begins UCLA strike at Dickson Plaza]

The UC has repeatedly claimed the strike is illegal because it violates a no-strike clause in a 2022 collective bargaining agreement. It attempted to stop the strike by filing two requests for injunctive relief to the California Public Employment Relations Board, both of which were denied.

On Monday afternoon, the UC announced it would file a breach of contract action lawsuit in state court against UAW Local 4811.

“We are disappointed that a state agency dedicated to the oversight of public employment could not take decisive and immediate action to end this unlawful strike,” said Melissa Matella, associate vice president for systemwide labor relations for the UC, in a press release. 

In a Monday statement, UAW Local 4811 President Rafael Jaime said the UC’s attempt to circumvent PERB is unlawful.

“UC should respect the law, return to mediation, and resolve their serious unfair labor practices, instead of continuing to insist that the rules do not apply to it,” he said in the emailed statement.

Blair also said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt invited him and 10 other faculty members to discuss “events on campus.” The faculty members rejected his invitation in a Daily Bruin op-ed, citing the UCLA administration’s decision to not negotiate with encampment leaders.

Following conversations with UCPD, protesters left the road and traffic reopened on Westwood Plaza at 3 p.m.

Contributing reports by Zoraiz Irshad, Matthew Royer, Shaun Thomas and Dylan Winward, Daily Bruin staff.

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Alexandra Crosnoe
Crosnoe is the 2024-2025 national news and higher education editor. She was previously a News reporter. Crosnoe is a second-year economics and public affairs student from Dallas.
Crosnoe is the 2024-2025 national news and higher education editor. She was previously a News reporter. Crosnoe is a second-year economics and public affairs student from Dallas.
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
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