Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel activists aim to disrupt Oscars with street protest

Several groups collaborating on march through Los Angeles under banner ‘No awards during a genocide!’; police to boost presence in addition to already heavy security

A worker helps raise an Oscars statue on the red carpet ahead of the 96th Academy Awards, in Los Angeles, March 9, 2024. (John Locher/AP)
A worker helps raise an Oscars statue on the red carpet ahead of the 96th Academy Awards, in Los Angeles, March 9, 2024. (John Locher/AP)

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel activists aim to disrupt arrivals at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony with a street protest that will call for an immediate ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Organizers expect hundreds of people to turn up with the intention of causing as much disruption as possible, the Hollywood Reporter said Saturday. Demonstrators intend to march and block roads under the banner “No awards during a genocide!”

The protest will also call for an end to what organizers described as “the blockade of Gaza and the occupation of Palestine.”

Various artists and film workers are behind the protest, which was set up in collaboration with several organizations such as Writers Against the War on Gaza LA (WAWOG), Film Workers for Palestine, and SAG-AFTRA Members

The 96th Oscar Awards are scheduled for Sunday evening at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

Film Workers for Palestine, in a joint statement with the anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Peace LA chapter, posted details to Instagram of the rallying point for the protest at LA’s Cinerama Dome, along with a poster declaring, “While you’re watching bombs are dropping.”

“Let’s mobilize and take the streets to show that we refuse to look away from this ongoing genocide! Ceasefire NOW!” the statement said.

A worker prepares for the Oscars red carpet ahead of the 96th Academy Awards, in Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2024. (John Locher/AP)

Film Workers for Palestine and SAG-AFTRA for Ceasefire, also among the organizers, said in a statement last week, “We will not let people turn away from the atrocities in Gaza. We are taking action and making sure Palestine will NOT be ignored for some glitz and glam.”

“We are well aware of the protesters, we have a number of backup scenarios we can activate quickly if needed,” a senior security official working for the Academy told Deadline on Saturday. “Working with our partners in the LAPD, we anticipate no problems or delays for our guests and nominees.”

Steel fencing was already thrown up around the theater last week, as has been the case at previous Oscar award ceremonies.

An Oscar official told Deadline, “This is an industry built on always having a Plan B. Everyone has a right to protest, of course, but the show must go on, as they say.”

Last week the Los Angeles police said it would boost its presence at the award ceremony to prevent war protests from disrupting the event.

Cmdr. Randy Goddard of the Los Angeles Police Department said intelligence, some of it gleaned from social media posts, indicated that at least one group “would like to stop the Academy Awards,” The New York Times reported at the time.

People carry banners and flags at a pro-Palestinian rally in Los Angeles on October 28, 2023 (DAVID SWANSON / AFP)

Goddard said police were aiming to ensure the safety of guests at the awards but also noted, “We are going to try very hard to make contact with the groups as they show up, and lay out the expectation that we as the police are here to support your First Amendment constitutional rights [to freedom of speech].”

“We’re hopefully going to find that middle ground,” Goddard said.

He noted that aside from police there will be almost 2,000 private security guards on duty for the Oscars. “My objective is to get the guests safely inside that venue,” he said.

An FBI spokeswoman told the Times it maintains a presence at the Academy Awards, as it does at other special events, to share intelligence and support police.

While efforts will be made to keep war activism away from the ceremony, there will be no crackdown on opinions inside the building.

Academy sources told the New York Post last week that Oscar organizers will not censor speeches given by award winners at the event.

According to the Post, Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper and Mark Ruffalo were among over 260 artists who signed a letter to US President Joe Biden in October calling for a ceasefire.

Posters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas wall in Paris. (Romain Chauvet)

The war erupted on October 7, when Palestinian terror group Hamas launched a devastating assault on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Terrorists also abducted 253 people who were taken as hostages to Gaza.

Israel responded to the attack with a military campaign to destroy Hamas, topple the terror group’s regime in Gaza, and free the hostages, over half of whom remain in captivity.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says at least 30,878 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7. Hamas’s figures cannot be verified, do not differentiate between combatants and civilians, and include some 13,000 Hamas terrorists Israel says it has killed in battle since October.

Recent weeks have seen international efforts at negotiating a lull in the fighting, with talks aiming for a six-week ceasefire under which 40 female, elderly and sick hostages would reportedly be released in exchange for some 400 Palestinian security prisoners, with provisions for negotiations on further truces and releases. However, the talks have stalled, with US and Israeli officials blaming Hamas for not accepting the terms currently on the table, even though Israel has.

The conflict has prompted rallies and demonstrations supporting both sides in cities around the world.

US singer Montana Tucker arrives for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Arena in Los Angeles on February 4, 2024. (Robyn Beck/AFP)

Activism has also hit the music industry. A few dozen pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated at the Grammy Awards in February, briefly blocking traffic. Inside the event, singer and social media influencer Montana Tucker donned a dress featuring a large yellow ribbon at its center, in a nod to the hostages still being held.

There were also minor protests at the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica the same month. In January, some celebrities donned yellow ribbon badges for the Golden Globes awards.

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