Reflection + Photography on the Encampment

Image Description: Feet standing on yellow brick on the UCLA campus. The brick has “FREE FREE PALESTINE” written over it in black and white spray paint.

The following is a submission to our open call for art related to the UCLA encampment and the Palestinian crisis.

Zaia Hammond is a second-year Human Biology and Society Major and African American Studies Minor at UCLA. She is from Atlanta, Georgia and is involved in the Afrikan Education Project and Black Pre-Law Association Journal on campus. She is passionate about giving voice and highlighting the experiences of underrepresented communities through expressive writing and photography. 

Reflection written after the horrific events on campus that occurred on May 1st and 2nd: 

The encampment at UCLA was one of the most beautiful embodiments of community and efforts of world-making that I have ever experienced. If only more students and people could have seen the self-sufficiency of student security and networking that occurred within and outside the encampment to maintain its space, they would understand that by no means was this encampment violent or unruly. Daily, for several days, prayers, teach-ins, self-defense classes, and even lawyer-led assemblies to teach us our rights were held inside the encampment. We protect each other, and we will continue to do so.

Undergrad and graduate students, faculty and non-university affiliated community members alike, risked arrest, their safety, and academic and professional careers in the face of Zionist terror, police brutality and university complicity in violence. Their courage has gone unnoticed and is emblematic that this cause for Palestine is bigger and goes beyond each of us. Although encampments nationwide have been destroyed and disassembled, more continue to be built and rebuilt. I am so proud to be a part of such a relentless community and to stand with my brothers and sisters in righteousness. It has been a months-long effort to get to where we are, and our fight on this campus is not yet over until our demands for disclosure and divestment from Israel are met.

The actions of universities across the country vindicate their roles in maintaining global states of surveillance and institutions of oppression that are federally propagated. The race is not won by the fastest nor the strongest, but the one who can endure. Although currently the encampment is gone and we don’t know what tomorrow brings, the last few days have only added fuel to fire and we will continue to fight for the liberation of the Palestinian people. Long live the Intifada.

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