Students rally for Palestine at UCLA. [Source: Photo courtesy of Ed Rampell]

“Biden Biden, Whattaya Say? How Many Kids You Kill Today?”

This was one of the militant chants of hundreds of students on May 1 at UCLA. I went to the university after covering the May Day rally in Hollywood, arriving around 4:00 p.m., and this is what I witnessed at the front lines of the class struggle in Westwood:

I made my way on foot across the sprawling campus toward the epicenter of the unfolding action, the UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment, led by Students for Justice in Palestine and the UC Divest Coalition at UCLA. The first thing I noticed was the sound of helicopters hovering overhead and a heavy security presence. The latter included the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the LA County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), California Highway Patrol, UCPD and CSC, a private firm specializing in crowd management. Upon reaching Dickson Plaza, the rather large area was cordoned off with metal barricades.

In the distance, flanked by august collegiate buildings, I could see the encampment and hear speeches being made with bullhorns (although I could not make out what speakers were saying). In the foreground I could see a jumbotron flying two Israeli flags in front of the nearby tent city behind plywood walls, from which pro-Zionist propaganda had been blared, but was at that moment quiet. When I approached yellow vest-wearing CSC guards controlling checkpoints, they refused to allow me in without an official press pass (which, by the way, are issued by LAPD and/or the Sheriff’s Department), and refused to consider stories I had written under my byline as proof that I was, indeed, a journalist.

[Source: Photo courtesy of Ed Rampell]

Determined to cover the students, I kept walking around Dickson Plaza; CHP vehicles lined the street. At another checkpoint I asked to speak to a media liaison for the UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment and pro-Encampment individuals summoned a young woman who appeared after a few minutes, calling herself “Mona.” 

To prove my bona fides, I showed her articles I had written, including an interview with independent presidential candidate Cornel West (wherein he called for a cease-fire in Gaza as far back as early November—see:

Mona was friendly and disputed that police had given the occupiers a legally valid dispersal order to abandon their “tent-in” (my term) by 6:00 p.m. She gave me a printout of the Encampment’s five bullet-pointed “demands” to the university, including:

“Divest: Withdraw all UC-wide and UCLA Foundation funds from companies and institutions that are complicit in the Israeli occupation, apartheid, and Genocide of the Palestinian people.” The demands went on to call for UCLA to “Disclose… full-transparency to all UC-wide and UCLA Foundation assets including investments, donations, and grants.” “Abolish Policing: End the targeted repression of pro-Palestinian advocacy… and sever all ties with LAPD” and “Boycott” ties to Israeli universities. The anti-war students also demanded that UCLA “call[s] for “ceasefire and end to the occupation and Genocide in Palestine.”

I gave Mona my business card and proceeded to the southern end of Dickson Plaza. There I encountered hundreds of multi-racial students with locked arms blocking the steps leading up to the Encampment, which I had a better—if not close-up view—of. Walls of protective plywood surrounded a village composed of tents and tarps, with Palestinian flags. 

Many of the unarmed demonstrators on the steps wore helmets, hijabs and keffiyehs and flew the Palestinian flag. They seemed disciplined, determined, resolute and unafraid. Their chants included: “Israel Bombs, USA Pays!”; “Israel Israel, Whattaya say? How many kids did you kill today?”; “Ho ho, hey hey, We will not stop, We will not rest: Disclose, Divest!” “Stop Bombing Gaza Now!”

A group of people wearing face masks

Description automatically generated
[Source: Photo courtesy of Ed Rampell]

There was no anti-Semitic sloganeering per se; absolutely no ethnic slurs or demeaning of Judaism or specifically pro-Hamas statements. The students did, however, chant: “Palestine will live forever, From the Sea to the River.” 

Some in the pro-Zionist camp do read into this a threat to wipe out Israel’s Jewish population. Pro-Palestinian activists, on the other hand, regard this as a call for full human rights for Palestinians, all the way from the West Bank and East Jerusalem across what is now Israel to Gaza. (During Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Sept. 22, 2023, speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he displayed a regional map that did not demarcate any Palestinian territory.)

The crowd kept growing, up to about 1,000 protesters, and someone with a bullhorn announced that a 6:00 p.m. “dispersal order was only for the encampment. It is not for us on the outside… If you stand on the steps, you defend the encampment.”

I walked around hilly ground slightly west of the steps with the multitude of linked-arm demonstrators. On the other side, a young man with a bullhorn announced: “If you’re not willing to be arrested, please leave. A dispersal order has been given.” I could see some young people filing down a flight of stairs to the guarded entry point to depart the Encampment on my right. But to the left, astonishingly, were hundreds of protesters lined up in order to join their comrades upstairs at the front lines, inside the Encampment.

A group of people playing drums

Description automatically generated
[Source: Photo courtesy of Ed Rampell]

Down the hill, in a parking lot, as it was still sunny, I could clearly see law enforcement vehicles arriving and parking, preparing their entrapment of the Encampment. But as 6:00 p.m. came and went without a police invasion, it seemed to me that the solidarity of masses of demonstrators defying the authorities and their order to run with their tails tucked between their legs prevented the police from acting as their deadline came and went.

Courageous anti-war students—armed only with their sense of righteous outrage—boldly faced down five heavily armed if outnumbered law enforcement entities, creating a standoff that lasted until about 3:00 a.m., May 2, when armed police finally assaulted, dismantled the tent city and busted reportedly 200-plus resisters, just days before the 54th anniversary of the Kent State shooting of anti-Vietnam War protesters. 

The steadfast moral stance of students bravely opposing the carpet bombing of civilians that has murdered 35,000 people, mostly civilians, women, children, and babies (Yes! “And babies” too, as a famous poster decrying the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War put it) reminded me of Mario Savio’s 1964 speech on the steps of Sproul Hall during the Free Speech Movement at another University of California campus, Berkeley:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus civil disobedience. There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part! …and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it – that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all!! …One thousand people sitting down someplace, not letting anybody by, not [letting] anything happen, can stop any machine, including this machine! And it will stop!!”

Mario Savio
Mario Savio speaking at Sproul Hall during the Berkeley Free Speech movement. [Source:]

Earlier that May 1, I went to the May Day rally at Sunset Blvd. where hundreds of pro-union demonstrators, many of them Latino, listened to speeches from leftists and labor activists. The throng was beneath a huge sign for Paramount Pictures and, after about an hour of pro-working class, pro-immigrant and anti-war remarks, they marched up to Hollywood Blvd. and down the fabled Walk of Fame, joined by colorful Indigenous Aztec dancers and an African drum group. 

May Day march in Los Angeles. [Source: Photo courtesy of Ed Rampell]

In 1952, Hollywood showman Cecil B. DeMille directed the blockbuster The Greatest Show on Earth, which was produced by Paramount. But in fact, that day, the greatest show on Earth was taking place far below Paramount’s sign—on streets filled with marching workers, and across town at a college campus, where undaunted students stood up against a U.S.-funded war as the conscience and consciousness of America.

When I left UCLA around 6:30 p.m., there were still helicopters hovering overhead, and I wondered: How long would it be before they played “The Ride of the Valkyries” and the Iron Heel of the State attacked pro-peace pupils at the barricades? 

The situation remains tense and fluid. Early Sunday morning, May 5, a pro-Palestinian encampment was raided and demolished on the University of Southern California’s campus on the other side of Los Angeles.

Back at UCLA, according to news reports, on the early morning of May 6, about 40 protesters were arrested by LAPD and LASD in a UCLA parking garage. After LAPD confronted other demonstrators staging a sit-in at Moore Hall, a march was held through the campus to Dodd Hall and beyond. The L.A. Times reported: “While campus was supposed to resume normal operations Monday, a Bruin Alert issued just before 9 a.m. Monday said ‘classes and work in Moore Hall will be remote today due to ongoing disruptions.'”

Faculty at UCLA protest detainment of students. [Source:]

At 1:30 p.m., May 6, the UCLA Palestine Solidarity Encampment sent me a “media alert” entitled “Fascism is Here” and headlined “STUDENTS, LEGAL OBSERVERS, AND PRESS HARASSED AND UNLAWFULLY DETAINED AT UCLA.”

The alert read:

Context: Less than 24 hours ago, and effective immediately, the Chancellor moved oversight of policy enforcement and the Office of Emergency Management from the Office of the Administrative Vice Chancellor to a newly created Office—an Office which masquerades as campus safety but whose leader solely reports to Gene Block. In other words, UCLA increased police presence and enlisted countless Sheriff deputies, all of whom report to the same man that left us to die and gave impunity to the perpetrators when our lives were threatened.

What: This morning at approximately 6 AM, over 45 students and other members of the UCLA community were arrested and detained by members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department. Students, as well as lawyers and members of the press, were handcuffed and put in zip ties, and forced to the ground for over four hours. A student was arrested simply for filming on the way to the gym — one of many unlawfully arrested. There are multiple instances captured on live streams in which the police tossed a person’s phone or filming device to the side, or forcefully grabbed it to interrupt them from recording. Those who were detained repeatedly asked if they were under arrest or free to go, but police officers refused to answer them. A vague mention of “curfew” by one of the officers was listed as one of the reasons behind the detainments earlier on in the incident—although importantly, curfew regulations do not apply to UCLA students. Police officers refused to give their names and badge numbers, with some even covering their badges. Campus and local media were further barred from entry. All of the aforementioned events were caught on a variety of student and press livestreams.

When they were arrested, students were not currently protesting. These unlawful arrests constitute harassment and abuse of power by law enforcement, and serve solely as an intimidation tactic. The deliberate targeting of legal observers and members of the press demonstrates UCLA’s blatant disregard for basic democratic safeguards guaranteeing the ability to dissent.

The UCLA community demands the immediate release of everyone detained this morning, and for the dropping of all charges, both the trumped up charges fabricated this morning and the unlawful charges from May 1st. These demands are interlaced with our integral five demands: disclosure, divestment, as well as full abidance by the BDS stipulations with an emphasis on academic and research programs. These demands are most relevant today apropos the end to the policing on our campus, the targeting of pro-Palestine advocates and and an end to the administration’s silence on the genocide, and their complicity. Our demands have been made clear to the university on repeated occasions, despite both the UCLA administration’s refusal to consider them and their efforts to censor and intimidate the student body.

We call on the student body and the public to monitor and oppose the increasingly repressive fascist tactics being deployed by our administration, the UC Regents, and the Biden Administration.

No one is free until Palestine is free.

More dedicated than ever,

The Palestine Solidarity Encampment.

From UCLA to Columbia to Gaza and beyond, the revolution is permanent.

CovertAction Magazine is made possible by subscriptionsorders and donations from readers like you.

Blow the Whistle on U.S. Imperialism

Click the whistle and donate

When you donate to CovertAction Magazine, you are supporting investigative journalism. Your contributions go directly to supporting the development, production, editing, and dissemination of the Magazine.

CovertAction Magazine does not receive corporate or government sponsorship. Yet, we hold a steadfast commitment to providing compensation for writers, editorial and technical support. Your support helps facilitate this compensation as well as increase the caliber of this work.

Please make a donation by clicking on the donate logo above and enter the amount and your credit or debit card information.

CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your gift is tax-deductible for federal income purposes. CAI’s tax-exempt ID number is 87-2461683.

We sincerely thank you for your support.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s). CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI), including its Board of Directors (BD), Editorial Board (EB), Advisory Board (AB), staff, volunteers and its projects (including CovertAction Magazine) are not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. This article also does not necessarily represent the views the BD, the EB, the AB, staff, volunteers, or any members of its projects.

Differing viewpoints: CAM publishes articles with differing viewpoints in an effort to nurture vibrant debate and thoughtful critical analysis. Feel free to comment on the articles in the comment section and/or send your letters to the Editors, which we will publish in the Letters column.

Copyrighted Material: This web site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. As a not-for-profit charitable organization incorporated in the State of New York, we are making such material available in an effort to advance the understanding of humanity’s problems and hopefully to help find solutions for those problems. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. You can read more about ‘fair use’ and US Copyright Law at the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

Republishing: CovertAction Magazine (CAM) grants permission to cross-post CAM articles on not-for-profit community internet sites as long as the source is acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original CovertAction Magazine article. Also, kindly let us know at For publication of CAM articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact:

By using this site, you agree to these terms above.

About the Author


  1. I am a strong critic of Netanyahu and Israel government, but This eyewitness has another story to tell. It is important to listen to all sides.

    • This Zionist student admits she wasn’t even there at the outset of the clip, everything she states is hearsay at best.

Leave a Reply