WESTWOOD—Several UCLA students demanded Undergraduate Student Association Council president Danny Siegel’s resignation after a photo of him posing with the Bloods gang sign was leaked. Students gathered at the Bruin Bear statue and marched to the USAC meeting, held every Tuesday at Kerckhoff 417.
Alicia Frison, chair of the Afrikan Student Union, discussed with the Daily Bruin how Siegel’s political slate, Bruin United, tried to cover up the incident.
“The slate may have tried to conceal the issue for a year, and I think we should be aware and have an open mind for what we’re voting for.”
“The photo was taken more than a year ago and was obviously selectively leaked right now to have some sort of effect or create a conversation,” Siegel told the Daily Bruin.
Robert Gardner, one the commenters at Tuesday night’s meeting and a fourth-year African-American studies and political science student, exceeded his two-minute talking limit while expressing his grievances toward Siegel’s behavior. Several council members attempted to stop Gardner from further speaking, sparking shouts and opprobrium from students.
Siegel attempted to call a recess to stop Gardner and the ensuing clamor in the room, but in response, many students began chanting, “Shame!” at him.
When Siegel tried to defend himself by stating respect for USAC bylaws, many students responded with the question, “Do you respect Black people?”
Chants of “Black Bruins matter!” broke into the room for several minutes. Six council members held up their fists in solidarity with the chanting students.
Kaitlyn Walker, a first-year student, complained, “I dare you to try to put up that sign in my hood and see what happens. I dare you to go into any project and try that sh**.”
Students demanded for Siegel’s resignation, but when he refused they demanded him to state, “My action was racist.”
Siegel refused to comply and moved to adjourn the meeting for several times.
The leaked photo first circulated on the Internet when students began posting a screenshot on Sunday, April 23, one day before the USAC election took place. The photo first appeared in a GroupMe chat by Brian Kohaya, Siegel’s appointment director. In the chat Kohaya commented, “Problematic Danny. (Don’t you dare repost that photo).”
Siegel posted on Sunday, April 30 a Facebook apology, which has since been taken down.
He wrote in the post, “This is a result of my white privilege and lack of perspective, something that so many victims of gang violence don’t have the luxury of, in fact this behavior can put their lives at risk.”
Students and commenters took to Facebook to debate Siegel’s action.
One commenter, Joey Cowman, wrote, “This is completely irrelevant in fixing how black students and black people in general are being oppressed by society.”
Liz Palafox retorted, “But, who is to say that this image does not make Black Bruins at UCLA, which is a society, feel oppressed and misunderstood? This is a real issue, and when ‘dumb people’ do ‘shi**y things’ it must be called out.”