Bruin Alumni Association
UCLA's Fight Against the War on Terror

Chapter 1 - A Day for 'Solidarity'

Chapter 2 - Changing the Subject

Chapter 3 - The Students

Chapter 4 - The Professors

Chapter 5 - Resolutions All Around!

UCLA's Fight Against the War on Terror

By Andrew Jones

Chapter 1
A Day for 'Solidarity'

    For UCLA’s radicals, the days and weeks leading up to March 5, 2003 had been entirely too calm.  But things were about to change.  As the clock struck 11:15 a.m., the campus came alive. Protesters roamed the halls, throwing open doors and screaming exhortations to professors and students alike.  Other lectures were interrupted by radicals who briefly attended classes in which they were not even enrolled, and then made symbolic – and disruptive - exits.[i]   This was the big day – the “National Moratorium to Stop the War on Iraq,” in which students would protest by walking out of their regularly scheduled classes.  The protest’s student organizers watched the spreading chaos with a rush of pride.  March 5th, they were certain, would be the day when all of UCLA united in peaceful opposition to the imminent invasion of Iraq.

    The protest’s 11:15 a.m. start was selected as most likely to maximize disruption to the campus.  The organizers were only too right.  By noon, approximately 1,000 UCLA and bussed-in high school students had gathered in Bruin Plaza.  Attendees were treated to the typical radical theater: a “die-in,” speeches featuring wild accusations and improbable conspiracy theories, and ending the protest, violent protest lyrics from rap group Zion I.[ii]

    At the conclusion of the main event, a contingent of hardcore radical students set off on a march across campus.  An even smaller group of conservatives, primarily Bruin Republicans, dogged the steps of the protestors, leading the cross-campus march with a 10-foot banner declaring “Saddam Loves Walkouts.”[iii]  A thin line of radical-organized “student security” was all that separated the two groups.  The security line, while laudable in concept, was laughable in reality, solely composed of fellow traveler radicals from groups like Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) and Samahang Pilipino.  Like the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse, the security was anything but neutral.  Under the supervision (and sometimes active participation) of the security, radical students shoved, obstructed and verbally assaulted the counterprotesters throughout the day. 

    As the march neared what would be its violent conclusion, Ryan Smith, an African Student Union group leader, Daily Bruin columnist, and speaker at the main noontime rally, led the marchers in an amplified chant: “Tear down that bullshit sign!  Tear down that bullshit sign!”  In the larger context of the day’s events, this was just one violent threat among many.  But the counterprotesters were about to find out that the student radicals meant what they said.  As the mobile protest drew within a stone’s throw of the Murphy Hall, the “student security” line linked hands and charged the opposition.  The two students carrying the offending banner were knocked to the ground.  Before they were able to get to their feet, the stampeding radicals set upon the banner and tore it to shreds, letting out a howl of triumph, and continued forward to triumphantly ascend the steps of the Murphy Hall administration building.  Setting up an illegal sound system, the radicals conducted a “speak-out” lauding, among other groups, the Filipino terrorists Abu Sayyaf.  The opposing students facing the hostile crowd were, as before, verbally and physically abused by “security” and protesters alike.

    The violent conclusion of the march was not reported directly in the Bruin, and no UCLA employee who witnessed the assaults stepped forward to address the matter.  In the end, not one of the radicals was ever prosecuted or punished for their role in the mob violence.  All in all, as long-time student support services employee Pat McLaren remarked to the Bruin, the day’s events were “one of the best examples of solidarity I've seen on this campus.”[iv]  

    The violence, abuse, and illegal activity that carried that particular March day were only the most visible and outrageous manifestations of a radical anti-war presence on the UCLA campus.  From the moment that the Twin Towers collapsed, UCLA extremists have been in constant motion to obstruct all aspects of what would come to be known as the War on Terror.  For UCLA’s radical students, faculty and administration, neither America’s direct retaliation through the Afghanistan invasion, nor the more controversial war in Iraq, hold any measure of legitimacy.  Instead, the slaughter of 9/11 was properly understood as penance for America’s supposed brutal subjugation of the world. 

    Go to Chapter 2 - Changing the Subject