LA Protesters Block Traffic, Chanting “No Oscars During Genocide”

LOS ANGELES — More than 1,000 organizers, artists, and film workers gathered in Hollywood today, March 10, to call for “no Oscars during genocide” amid the ongoing siege and bombardment of Gaza, denouncing what they described as Hollywood’s silence and complicity with the Israeli government. 

The activists, in collaboration with Film Workers for Palestine, SAG-AFTRA Members for Ceasefire, and other groups, met at 1pm on Sunday at the busy intersection of Ivar Ave and Sunset Boulevard to rally outside the abandoned Cinerama Dome. They then marched northwest to the Dolby Theater at Highland Ave and Hollywood Boulevard, where the street was blocked off for the evening’s Academy Awards.

“I’m here today because I cannot sit at home and watch an awards show when I know there’s a genocide happening that’s being perpetrated in the name of Jewish people, and that includes my family,” Miguel Camnitzer, 44, the son of artist Luis Camnitzer, told Hyperallergic

Canadian comic artist Michael DeForge, 37, was also in the crowd. “I think it’s important that cultural workers figure out how to leverage their labor and their work for a free Palestine,” he said.

Groups gathered at the intersection of Ivar Ave and Sunset Boulevard to rally outside the Cinerama Dome.

Leaders held a moment of silence for the more than 30,000 Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes before reading the latest death toll figures in a call-and-response chant. “SHAME!” the crowd yelled back. Activists unfurled a banner that read “Eyes on Rafah,” citing a planned Israeli invasion of the city in the southern Gaza Strip that humanitarian experts have described as catastrophic and President Biden has described as a “red line.”

Police presence blocked off the streets along Sunset from Ivar to Canuenga with yellow caution tape and at least six police SUVs and 25 patrol cars. Demonstrators with snare drums kept rhythm with the chanting crowd while police sirens wailed in the background and helicopters and drones hovered overhead.

An activist’s shirt makes reference to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

By 2pm, the crowd was marching along Sunset Boulevard, yelling “Ceasefire! Now!” and “Palestine is not for sale” at intervals. Signs read “While you’re watching, bombs are dropping,” referencing the Oscars ceremony starting in just a few hours.

Some cars driving by honked in solidarity. A driver in the type of black SUV typically used to transport celebrities honked his horn in rhythm with the crowd’s chants, throwing up a peace sign out his car window as he crossed the intersection. 

Counter-protesters were scant, but made themselves seen. A man in a suit and Oakley aviators stood on the corner of Ivar and Sunset waving United States and Israeli flags. “I’m here to show support for freedom and democracy throughout the world,” he told Hyperallergic. “Long live Israel in the US.”

Protesters outside the Los Angeles Film School on Sunset

By 2:30pm, police presence increased significantly as marchers approached the Oscars venue. A barricade of officers blocked the street at Las Palmas Avenue as protesters paused and sang “Ceasefire Now, Free Palestine” in front of the Blessed Sacrament School. 

A 12-year-old LA resident, whose parents asked that Hyperallergic not use their name, shared why they had come to march. “We’re here today because they’re using the Oscars as an excuse to bomb Gaza while we’re not watching,” said the young activist. 

Some protesters dispersed at around 3:45pm as the rest of the crowd continued southeast toward Wilcox Avenue.

Among the advocacy groups involved today was Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which has staged countless demonstrations and actions in the months since Israel escalated its attacks on Palestine.

“I’ve been in this movement since the 1970s,” Sara Jacobin, a 72-year-old JVP member, told Hyperallergic. “It’s important for us today to not turn away, to not let ourselves be distracted by the Oscars, and to amplify our call for a ceasefire.”

Activists gathered on Sunset and Wilcox
A sign hanging from a car asks “what good is art without genocide?”
Demonstrators criticized the US government’s ongoing funding of the Israeli military.
Some held flags and signs in the shape of watermelons in solidarity with Palestine.
A sign depicts Netanyahu with the word “killer” in red.
Protesters in front of the abandoned Cinerama Dome at Ivar Ave and Sunset Blvd in Hollywood

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