Friday, October 23

Westwood protest continues despite cancellation, police detain at least 10


Dozens of protesters marched onto the 405 Freeway at a protest near the Wilshire Federal Building in Westwood Monday. (Axel Lopez/Daily Bruin senior staff)


“No justice, no peace,” chanted hundreds of protesters in Westwood Monday afternoon.

The protesters gathered despite social media announcements that the protest had been canceled. They chanted “Black lives matter,” and “Don’t shoot,” on sidewalks near the Wilshire Federal Building in Westwood.

The demonstrators criticized police brutality amid several days of protests across Los Angeles and the nation following George Floyd’s death in the custody of Minneapolis police May 25.

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

The Student Activist Project at UCLA originally planned the Westwood protest for June 1, but canceled it Sunday evening for a number of reasons, including safety concerns.

Two police agencies and the California National Guard deployed over 100 police officers and troops in response to the Westwood protest. The UCPD, LAPD and the National Guard deployed at least 20 cars and armored vehicles. The UCPD branch at UC Irvine also deployed ten officers to Westwood at UCLA’s request, said UCI spokesperson Tom Vasich.

Dozens of the protesters later moved to the 405 Freeway ramp, temporarily blocking northbound traffic. The police then began firing rubber bullets at the crowd and detained at least 10 people.

After ordering protesters to move onto Wilshire Boulevard, the police formed a blockade of the street. They then declared the protest an unlawful assembly and ordered gatherers to leave the area.

Conor Driscoll, one of the protesters, said cars driving by the Westwood protest honked in support of the protesters.

“Almost everyone was honking and raising their fists with us,” said Driscoll, a second-year international development studies student. “They were honking to the rhythm of ‘Black Lives Matter’ trying to chant with us. A lot of people had their own signs with their passengers.” 

 

Gianni Eason, another student protester, said law enforcement officials only focused on protecting private property, instead of demonstrating concern for the public.

“It’s hurtful and painful to see they only care about the property,” said Eason, a third-year political science student. “I wish there was the same response when we were being murdered.”

The UCLA Store closed 1 p.m. Monday in anticipation of the protests. Several other stores in Westwood, including Ralphs, Trader Joe’s and Target also closed. Around half the stores in Westwood Village barricaded their storefronts Monday, including Target, CVS and LA Fitness. 

SAP at UCLA’s initial planning for the protest did not include input from the Afrikan Student Union, said ASU Chair Alexandria Davis, in an emailed statement. The organizers also did not include input from the Black Graduate Student Association, said BGSA President Trisden Shaw. 

The ASU and BGSA did not endorse the protest because they were not directly involved in the planning and for safety reasons, Davis and Shaw said. 

“I’m very wary of organizations that are not black-led or black-centered that are taking this moment to be active without working with black organizations,” Shaw said. “To me that is not really allyship; allyship is the process of supporting movements and the plans and organizations and programming that is led by them.”

Davis said the nationwide protests demonstrate there has been no progress on police brutality issues. 

“The police system is not just filled with rotten apples; instead it is a rotten tree with roots of anti-Blackness, racism, and enslavement,” Davis said in an emailed statement. 

Westwood city officials said they support peaceful and lawful protests, but city businesses are concerned about possible looting in Westwood Village, said Lisa Chapman, the Westwood Neighborhood Council president. 

Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, said he does not anticipate the barricades being removed in the next few days. 

The National Guard should not be used against peaceful protesters, said Michael Skiles, the North Westwood Neighborhood Council president. Police should put down their helmets and batons and join protesters in the community, Skiles added.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council circulated a petition to the state governor and city mayor, calling for the removal of National Guard troops from Westwood.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Related link: USAC leadership requests immediate removal of National Guard from UCLA area]

In a press conference addressing Monday’s protests, Garcetti said a county-wide curfew would begin at 6 p.m. 

ASU started an online petition calling on UCLA to either cancel or postpone spring quarter finals due to tensions and stress caused by the circumstances surrounding the nationwide protests, in addition to the coronavirus outbreak. The petition has over 10,000 signatures, Davis said.

The UCLA Academic Senate agreed to recommend professors make adjustments to spring quarter finals, according to a statement by USAC and ASU student leaders. However, the Academic Senate does not have the authority to outright cancel or postpone all final exams due to UC-wide rules, the statement read.

UCLA is working to create virtual reflection spaces for concerned students, according to an online statement by Chancellor Gene Block and other UCLA officials and student leaders. 

However, UCLA is not doing enough to address the challenges facing black students, Shaw said. The university has not approved requests for funding and a director for a black resource center on campus, he added. 

“For (UCLA) to say black lives matter, well, we know that,” Shaw said. “Black lives will really matter if it’s more than just a statement, it is (an) action.”

Contributing reports from Liz Ketcham, MacKenzie Coffman, Axel Lopez and Amy Dixon, Daily Bruin staff.

Assistant Enterprise editor

Jung is the 2020-2021 assistant Enterprise editor. He is also a news reporter and photographer for the Daily Bruin. Jung is a second-year global studies and geography and environmental studies student.


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