Thursday, December 11, 2014

Racial incidents at Oklahoma State University fuel Brown decision protests

Oklahoma State University students joined the nationwide protests from the grand jury decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown Jr.

Some students wrote “OSU Wants Justice” with chalk on the sidewalks around the classroom building. That statement was later defaced and changed to “Brown Got Justice.” Other chalk writing defacing was made to read “Justice was Served” and “Should Have Obeyed the Law.”
The de-faced chalk inscription at OSU

The chalk revisions fueled racial tension at OSU that came to light in October when racial slurs were added to a photo of an African American organization on an Internet application called Unseen.

The OSU demonstrations came after the holiday weekend and Monday saw hundreds of protests across the nation. The Ferguson National Response Network listed approximately 30 “HANDS UP WALK OUT” events Monday at universities across the United States.

Tuesday, OSU students didn’t wait for university administrators to speak up. Instead, they used the peaceful protests to explore the issue of racism on the Stillwater campus.

Students and at least one faculty member, Isabel Alvarez-Sancho, were outraged by some of the comments, written around the Classroom Building.

Students quickly Tweeted about what had happened. Alvarez-Sancho, Ph.D. and Professor of Spanish at OSU, said she saw the racist graffiti on the sidewalk before her 9 a.m. class Tuesday. She immediately reported the incident to Student Life, which had the chalk washed off the sidewalk sometime between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

As of Tuesday, no reports had been filed with OSU Police on the incidents.
Patterson, who said she plans to attend law school, said she wasn’t satisfied with OSU’s response to racist comments made on Unseen.

“We say we are ‘loyal and true’ here,” Patterson said. “But we have seen how that isn’t true. Tonight, we are starting a peaceful protest with a prayer.”

One protester, 18-year-old Jazzmine Banks from Fort Sill, drew
a body outline to symbolize Brown.

“It is important for us in the black community to come together and acknowledge that racism exists when people say it doesn’t,” she said. “It exists in our government and law enforcement and we are not alone in the struggle. We may not be able to change the verdict, but we can change how people think about it.”

Insolent Politics
Sources: Reuters, Stillwater Newspress

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