“Down with American imperialism!” : tension rises during pro-Palestinian demonstrations on a California campus

Aviva Fried / Credits: Eric Thayer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP
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7:48 a.m., April 26, 2024

The tension is not decreasing on the campuses of American universities where numerous pro-Palestinian demonstrations are taking place. Europe 1 went to California, to the UCLA campus, where nearly 200 demonstrators erected tents.

American college campuses continue to witness pro-Palestinian protests. While at Columbia, some courses are now online, New York University opened negotiations with pro-Palestinian students and announced this Friday the postponement of the evacuation of the campus.

On the other hand, at USC in California, Texas, Ohio and even Georgia, the police intervened. In total, nearly 400 demonstrators were arrested and around sixty universities involved, including UCLA in Los Angeles where around 200 demonstrators erected tents on a lawn in the center of the university.

“If we think about something else, it distracts us from our main objective”

All around the campus, there are wooden pallets on which posters proclaiming “Free Palestine” or even “Down with American imperialism!” are hung. Students, all masked and dressed in keffiyehs, take turns using the megaphone to paste slogans. Journalists are prohibited from crossing the barrier and speaking to anyone. She is an official spokesperson for the movement who was kind enough to answer Europe 1’s questions, through a well-rehearsed speech.

“We are here because we cannot do business as usual while a genocide has been taking place in Gaza for 200 days.” And there is no question of mentioning the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. “If we think about something else, it distracts us from our main objective,” says the spokesperson.

Around twenty students displaying Israeli flags circulate without incident. However, a Jewish student explains that on a daily basis, things are complicated. “I had an altercation with a woman. She looked at my Star of David and pushed me violently.” UCLA management has no plans, for the moment, to take action against the encampment. The police presence on site is almost non-existent.

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