The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Students Beaten for Opposing Gaza Killings While Police Stand Back

May 20, 2024

Demonstrators at colleges and universities across the U.S. have been calling for an end to the bombings in Gaza that have killed over 35,000. Details are emerging about the violent attacks on demonstrators at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) by thugs that occurred in the middle of the night on April 30.

At UCLA, the demonstrators had built an encampment on the Quad for protection. In the middle of the night, a gang of men attacked the camp, attempting to tear it down to get at the protestors. They launched a violent attack, using wooden and metal rods, and their fists. Throwing bottles and firecrackers, the attackers tore away at the protective barrier, finally reaching student demonstrators and injuring at least 30. The attack lasted five hours during which the demonstrators attempted to call police and emergency services only to be hung up on, ignored and told that they were not going to receive help.

Officials at UCLA waved away offers of help from state authorities while campus security moved to the side to avoid involvement in the melee. Finally, when LAPD and the California Highway Patrol did arrive some hours later, they mostly stood and watched as demonstrators were beaten.

Some of the attackers have now been identified. Some appeared organized together and wore dark clothes, masks and badges identifying themselves as pro-Israel. By their actions and rhetoric, it was clear that in their majority they support the bombings in Gaza. At the end of the attacks, it was not these attackers who were arrested, it was 200 demonstrating students.

In a situation that is reminiscent of the demonstrations and confrontations following the murder of George Floyd, the actions of these right-wing vigilantes appear to have been welcomed by authorities up and down the line. After all, colleges have used police violence repeatedly against demonstrators. After all, the university had signaled their own plans to destroy the camp and eject the demonstrators. After all, in college after college, members of staff, professors and administrators have been called upon to repress any anti-war activity, and punishment has been doled out to those who fail to comply.

After all, President Biden himself has spoken out against the demonstrations. What did he say about violence? That violence against property would not be tolerated. What about violence toward demonstrators who protest his horrific policy of supporting bombings against Palestinians?

The beatings at UCLA and the indifference of authorities to the behavior of police and security forces serve as a warning to all. Those who govern, those who control the wealth and the war machinery, those who arm Israel to serve as their very own private army in the Middle East, are making it clear that they intend to continue that war and others. Support for the Israeli state machine is non-negotiable. The U.S. ruling class, and the ruling classes of Britain and France and others have no intention to allow the Middle East ever to belong to those who live there, not Arab, not Jew, not any nationality. They intend to forever control and exploit this important geographic region with its vast reserves of oil and other resources.

They are ready to impose their plans for broader war here and abroad and they are signaling “loud and clear” that if you want to join in support of the Palestinians, you will wind up under attack with them. Not just to the students, but to all who dare disagree.

Their spokespersons right and left encourage divisions and encourage workers to oppose the student movement. Trump and others like him will mobilize workers against those they call elite or privileged, because they can go to university while workers have to work, or can’t afford college.

Will the workers build leadership that can steer past this trap? Will the student movement remain bravely opposed to the current and future wars? Will some of these students look to join workers in building a revolutionary party in the working class, the only class that can bring down capitalism? Certainly, that is the only way forward.

The future for us depends on being clear in front of the working class that in situations of struggle, in situations of attack, we cannot depend on the politicians nor their state apparatus, police and army, to protect us.

For that, working people can only depend on themselves.