UCLA Workers and Students Kick Off Campaign for a Sanctuary Campus!

by Henry DeGroot, Socialist Students UCLA

On March 9th, over 200 members of the UCLA community convened in a packed lecture hall to build a fightback against Trump’s planned attacks on immigrants. Socialist Students at UCLA hosted the meeting where the Student Labor Advocacy Project coalition of Muslims, undocumented immigrants, campus workers, queer students, and UCLA activists presented their demands for a Sanctuary UCLA. It is estimated that UCLA is home to over 700 undocumented students, in addition to the thousands of undocumented workers employed throughout the University of California system.

The coalition is planning a follow up action @ 4pm on Monday March 12 outside Haines Hall to present their demands to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block before the end of the Winter term. Block’s recent email to the campus regarding immigration is evidence that UC bureaucrats are not immune to the pressures of student and worker mobilization. However, students cannot rely on the goodwill of administrators, and undoubtedly an escalation campaign will be necessary throughout the Spring term to force the UCLA administration to make policy concessions to the movement.

The list of 15 demands was compiled by the most directly targeted community groups within the SLAP coalition, with the undocumented, Muslim, queer, POC, and union groups leading the formulation of policy proposals. Socialist Students @ UCLA fully endorses the coalition’s proposals, which demand UCLA end collaboration with Immigration authorities, protect private data, denounce Muslim registries, combat campus sexual violence, and expand resources for targeted communities. These demands grow from an intersectional approach to campus collaboration, firmly supported by two of the UC system’s most militant unions, AFSCME Local 3299 and UAW Local 2865.

“We are here to build a sanctuary at UCLA and all the ten campuses. We’re not going to give up until we get it.” Jose Mendez, a union worker at UCLA for 32 years.

Jose Mendez, a member of AFSCME 3299’s executive board, highlighted the union’s commitment to the undocumented community. “I always stand with the students, and the students always stand with the workers. We are a family and we here to stay! We are here to build a sanctuary at UCLA and all the ten campuses. We’re not going to give up until we get it. I’m going to go to the bargaining table in two weeks to tell [the office of the UC President] that we are not going to stop until this is done the right way.” In February the union presented a similar list of sanctuary proposals as part of their formal contract negotiation. They are likely to go on strike at the beginning of the summer when their three year contract expires.

The SLAP coalition has not limited itself to campus mobilization. UCLA graduate students and socialist activists crashed Mayor Eric Garcetti’s victory party after his triumph in Tuesday’s municipal election. A handful of students slipped into the venue, disrupting the Mayor’s victory speech to demand a Sanctuary City, while hundreds picketed beyond Garcetti’s line of police.

A dynamic direct action campaign led by SLAP must be combined with a campaign to build broader public support. UCLA activists should build for a general strike on May 1st in solidarity with workers, students, and oppressed people across the country!

Solidarity with #NoDAPL

Statement from Kshama Sawant

END THE POLITICAL REPRESSION AGAINST STANDING ROCK PROTESTERS

Thursday in North Dakota, a police force backed by corporate paramilitary agents and armored vehicles moved against indigenous people and other activists courageously protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Organizers were beaten, maced, shot with rubber bullets, threatened with automatic weapons, and more than 100 arrested for having the audacity to stand up and protect indigenous treaty rights, the region’s watershed, and the climate.

dapl-628x356This is a war zone!” declared a filmmaker at Standing Rock, who had previously reported on the ground in Iraq. Native News Online noted, “those arrested and detained are not allowed to post bail. Government officials have stated that they will no longer communicate with those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Authorities are responding to the biggest united action of Native American tribes in modern history with militarized repression, with the support of North Dakota’s governor and attorney general. Meanwhile, President Obama has refused to condemn this brutal attack on civil rights, much less taken practical steps in defense of protesters. This stunning failure to act is a damning indictment of Obama’s administration, as well of as North Dakota authorities and the Democratic Party leadership.

A month and a half ago, with the leadership of indigenous activists who spearheaded the introduction of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2014, I brought forward a resolution in the Seattle City Council calling for solidarity with Standing Rock. The statement, which condemned past violence and called on North Dakota authorities to drop all charges against protesters and journalists, was passed unanimously. But our demands and the voices of so many others in the U.S. and internationally have gone unheeded.

I again join with indigenous people, environmentalist activists, progressive labor unions, and the broader left in condemning these abominable acts by North Dakota authorities, and call for an immediate end to political repression and the release of arrested activists.

I’m donating what I can to the Standing Rock legal defense fund, and I encourage you to also dig deep to show your solidarity. All donations received by the solidarity campaign I helped create, Movement for the 99%, will be sent directly to the Standing Rock legal defense fund.

Socialist Students on the Front Lines: #NoDAPL

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Socialist Students from the Bay Area, CA travelled to North Dakota to bring supplies to Native American water protectors fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Read about their experience here!

#NoDAPL

Morgan Quirk, Socialist Students – Bay Area

For young people, the threat of climate catastrophe grows more grave each year, as corporations and their politicians take no serious measures to prevent it. Students are often on the front line of environmental struggles, which is why we went to North Dakota to link up with the Native American water protectors fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. We first held a fundraiser in Oakland with the working class community and Socialist Alternative activists, where we were able to raise over $1600 in supplies to assist the #NoDAPL camps. We drove 26 hours from Oakland, past the National Guard checkpoint, and finally delivered the supplies to the diverse group of campers and native tribes fighting for clean water and against environmental destruction.

Due to direct action and occupation, Obama himself was pushed to call for a temporary halt to construction in the area, which the local court later upheld. This victory was met with cheers one evening during our communal dinner at Sacred Stone camp, but it was also widely understood that this was a temporary victory and that further struggle would come during the fall and difficult winter months. For this reason, it was requested that we bring heaters, warm clothing, sleeping bags, blankets, and other means to help the camps last through the cold days ahead. But this battle against the pipeline company is bringing together an increasingly wide coalition. This began with the native tribes coming together in a historic show of unity, but it is also inspiring the broad environmental movement, working class people around the country, black lives activists, and even some of the more progressive unions.

We discovered that the links between the injustices here and around the world are felt deeply in the Standing Rock community – an elder medicine man from Manitoba told us, “In Iceland they are jailing the bankers. We need to think about that. There is a revolution happening all around the world.” Students and young people will be at the cutting edge of all these battles, many fighting for a socialist solution to the crisis of capitalism and its devastating impact on the environment.

Update from our students at UMass Boston!

Socialist Students’ launch at UMass Boston on Tuesday, September 6th was greeted with great success. In the face of massive budget cuts and tuition increase, students at the the only four year public college in the city of Boston showed a lot of interest in getting involved with Socialist Students, which will be working with unions, staff and students to build the fight back against the attacks on the university. As well, our call for a vote for Jill Stein as an independent left alternative to fight both Trump and Clinton sparked important discussions with many students on how to not only build a fight back against the billionaire class on the ground but also in the political field. Forward!

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