SAG-AFTRA Picketers Shut Down Cahuenga Boulevard in First Official Rally at Universal Studios

Police confirmed that strikers shut down the Los Angeles street

SAG-AFTRA picketers (Photo Credit: Kristen Lopez, TheWrap)
SAG-AFTRA picketers (Photo Credit: Kristen Lopez, TheWrap)

SAG-AFTRA protesters shut down Cahuenga Boulevard in northern Los Angeles due to extensive turnout for Friday’s protest. Police confirmed to TheWrap that the street was closed down due to the strike happening.

A reporter for TheWrap was near the site and noted that though she couldn’t see the actual crowd, she witnessed swarms of people, tents and police as well as news helicopters above the scene. Pedestrians were still able to enter the studios through the skybridge, but the streets surrounding Universal were filled with protesters.

The official SAG-AFTRA X account (formerly known as Twitter) posted about the protest and acknowledged the higher-than-usual turnout.

“As you can see, our picketers have taken over the street. The fact of the matter is, while we’re not supposed to be out here in the street, this is how strongly our members feel about getting a fair contract,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director and chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, said in a video. “We’re going to get everybody out of the middle of the street now. But just know this just tells you how strong our members feel, how important this issue is and that we are going to do what it takes to get a fair, equitable and respectful contract.”

Friday morning marked SAG-AFTRA’s first official picket outside of the Universal Studios lot. In order to assure high attendance at the location, other strikes throughout the area were closed for the day.

“We have been fighting Universal for our right to picket safely, and they say they’ve fixed the sidewalks. We’re so excited to finally be able to picket at Universal,” SAG-AFTRA announced on its strike website. “All other pickets in the Valley — Warner Bros. and Disney — will be closed on Friday, Aug. 4, to ensure we show up #SAGAFTRAStrong!”

Though some SAG-AFTRA members have joined the WGA pickets on NCBUniversal, there were no official protests organized by the guild due to safety concerns over the studio’s main gate on Lankershim Blvd. A week after the WGA strike began, NBCUniversal erected construction fences around its sidewalks. This blockage led to WGA and SAG-AFTRA filing federal complaints against the company, arguing that these measures were infringing on their legal right to gather in front of the entrances. For its part, NBCUniversal countered that the fences were part of a multi-year backlot development and renovation deal that can be traced back to 2020.

On Tuesday, the fences next to the Lankershim studio gate were moved. NBCUniversal also said it would add “temporary walking paths and expanded shaded rest areas,” which was recommended by the LAPD back in June.  

For all of TheWrap’s strike coverage, click here.