An autonomous organization of student activists set up encampments on the lawn between North Hall, known as Malcolm X Hall, and the UC Santa Barbara Library on May 1, beginning at 4 a.m. The effort is a show of solidarity with Palestine and “all oppressed peoples,” according to the group’s promotional materials.

Around 50 tents have been set up as of Friday afternoon. Around 150-200 students circulated the encampments on Thursday, May 2, which coincided with several campus rallies. Lizzy Rager / Daily Nexus

The group identified themselves as the UCSB Liberated Zone and practices a “horizontal power structure,” where there is no singular leader and roles are rotating, fourth-year global studies major and the group’s media representative Ericka Bradley said. UCSB Students for Justice in Palestine, the UCSB chapter of the UC Divest Coalition and Jewish Voice for Peace stated they “are not affiliated” with the effort, in an Instagram post on Tuesday night.

According to promotional flyers, the group “finds UCSB’s involvement in Palestinian genocide through academic, economic, and carceral collaboration unbearable any longer.” They named UCSB’s million-dollar gifts from Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Gruman — military contractors — and the UC’s investment partner BlackRock, an investor of weapons manufacturing in this sentiment.

Around 50 tents have been set up as of Friday afternoon. Around 150-200 students circulated the encampments on Thursday, May 2, which coincided with several campus rallies. According to another media spokesperson, 40 people involved with the organization and upkeep of the effort announced staying until they are “forcibly removed.” Multiple campus security officers remain on standby.

“We are all here for collective liberation and we’re also here in solidarity with all the other encampments that are going on nationally and internationally,” a UCSB Liberated Zone organizer, who wished to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, said. “We are also responding to a call for escalation from [the] national [Students for Justice in Palestine].”

“We are not tied to any specific organization, we are just students and people who care about what is happening and want to fight against an oppressive system,” the student organizer said. 

Organizers are accepting donations for hot meals, tents, sleeping bags, generators, arm sleeves, walkie-talkies, large trash bags, blankets, pillows, toothbrushes and toothpaste, among other items. They have asked to halt donations of granola bars, water, masks, sunscreen, baby wipes, bug spray, canned food and menstrual products. They are also accepting cash donations for a precautionary bail fund @ucsbpalcamp on Venmo.

On May 2, the group encouraged people to stop by the encampment site for chants, orientations and to learn more about the movement. Members of the Muslim Student Association led five prayers throughout the day at the encampment site. 

On Wednesday, May 1, the group also participated in de-escalation and EMT training in case of confrontation and hosted a “Cops Tactic Training” at 3 p.m. According to Bradley, a designated security team is in charge of creating safety plans, with EMT training and advice from lawyers in preparation for potential escalation.

Various members of Associated Students (A.S.) and UCSB administration — including Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn, Dean of Student Life Katya Armistead and A.S. President Tessa Veksler — observed the encampment site from the sidelines and engaged in discussion with onlookers the same day.

Bradley claimed the group has had no contact with administration about the encampment, nor have they heard from law enforcement, as of now. Bradley did, however, note UC Police Department officers in cars stationed nearby observing the encampment.

The group has yet to share a formalized list of demands. 

The Nexus will continue to report on this topic as more information becomes available.

Josh Rhodes contributed reporting.

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Lizzy Rager
Lizzy Rager (she/her) is the Assistant News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. She can be reached at lizzyrager@dailynexus.com
Anushka Ghosh Dastidar
Anushka Ghosh Dastidar (she/her) is the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ghosh Dastidar was the Assistant News Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. She can be reached at anushkagd@dailynexus.com or news@dailynexus.com.