Black Lives Matter Student Protests Around the U.S.
After protests at the University of Missouri, students at other colleges, including Ivy League schools, followed suit.
By Sheryl Estrada
Many students say the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew nationally following the protests of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, has inspired them.
Dartmouth College Teaches #BlackLivesMatter
On Thursday night, student protesters at Dartmouth College vocalized their support of the movement. Activists began to chant "Black Lives Matter" in the school library, shown on cell phone video.
The geography department and African and African-American studies program at Dartmouth added a spring-term course "10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter," dedicated to considering race, structural inequality and violence in both a historical and modern context.
At Dartmouth, an Ivy League university in Hanover, N.H., race-related tension has existed on campus for quite some time. The student body is 47 percent white, 14 percent Asian, 8 percent Latino, 7 percent Black and 2 percent Native American.
Last year, in pursuit of a Freedom Budget, students held an overnight sit-in in the office of the president. The budget addressed concerns over diversity, including among faculty; perceived sexism; and the atmosphere for underrepresented people, including the LGBT community.
After meeting with the student activists, President Philip J. Hanlon sent out a campus-wide email rejecting their input:
Their grievance, in short, is that they don't feel like Dartmouth is fostering a welcoming environment. I met with these students yesterday and again today, and I deeply empathize with them. I made it clear, however, that meaningful change is hard work. Progress cannot be achieved through threats and demands. Disrupting the work of others is counter-productive. Academic communities rest on a foundation of collaboration and open dialogue informed by respectful debate among multiple voices.
Brown University Faces Controversy
At Brown University last week, students joined their peers at other colleges in protesting racial discrimination on their campuses. Students shared personal statements and experiences followed by a walkout and teach in from Africana graduate students.
Brown is located in Providence, R.I. The student body is 43 percent white, 12 percent Asian, 11 percent Latino, 6 percent Black and less than 1 percent Native American. Currently, the university is facing racial bias allegations from a Dartmouth student.
Brown University President Christina Paxson has called for a full investigation and regular meetings on racial issues after a campus police officer handcuffed a Dartmouth student during an encounter that officials called "heated and physical," according to the Providence Journal.
Geovanni Cuevas, 23, a senior Dartmouth delegate attending the annual Latinx Ivy League Conference, said a public safety officer slammed him against a wall, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him early Saturday morning. He was waiting in line outside a party at the Machado House on Prospect Street when he told the officers they were acting inappropriately toward a drunk Brown student.
At the conference, Latino students from Ivy League schools gather to discuss race, gender and socio-economic issues.
Paxson apologized in an email Saturday to the campus community.
"I apologized this afternoon to our students and our guests for the fear and pain this incident has caused," Paxson wrote. "Now I extend this apology to our entire campus community ... especially to our students of color."
Georgetown University Buildings Named After Slave Owners
Students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., participated in a sit-demonstration on Friday at the office of President John J. DeGioia to ask for the name of Mulledy Hall, which is currently under renovation, to be changed.
According to The Georgetown Voice, the student-run publication, the residence hall is named after the school's 17th president, and a slave owner, Thomas F. Mulledy. He sold 272 Black slaves owned by the Jesuits in charge of the school to pay off $47,654.54 in operations debt in 1838. The student body at Georgetown is 59 percent white, 9 percent Asian, 8 percent Latino, 6 percent Black and less than 1 percent Native American.
Previously, instead of changing the name, President DeGioia established the Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation, a 15-member advisory group comprised of three students and faculty. The group's goal was to assist him in addressing the school's history with slavery.
In an email sent on Saturday, DeGioia said that until a permanent change is made, Mulledy Hall will be known as "Freedom Hall" and McSherry Hall will be "Remembrance Hall." McSherry Hall was named after William McSherry, a Georgetown president, who advised Mulledy on selling of slaves. He sold slaves as well.
Additionally, the Working Group will also have events for dialogue regarding the issue on Nov. 18 and 19 and a teach-in on Dec. 1.
Also on Thursday, the same day Mizzou announced its interim president, a protest took place at Ithaca College in New York. Organized by People of Color at Ithaca College, students chanted "Tom Rochon! No confidence!" during the protest. Similar to Mizzou, students demanded Rochon's resignation for his failure to effectively deal with a string of racist incidents on campus this semester. The organization has called for a campus-wide vote for "confidence" or "no confidence" in Rochon. Students have requested responses by Nov. 30.
Yale students set off a round of protests on the school's broader racial climate. Thousands of students participated in a "March of Resilience" on Monday against racial insensitivity.
Students showed their solidarity with the University of Missouri at numerous institutions, including: Howard University, Emory University, Wesleyan University, Purdue University, University of Oregon, Drake University, Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Claremont College, Penn State, Columbia University, Rutgers University, Albany, UCLA, Stanford University and Stony Brook University.
Jemel Roberson family's attorney says the task force has a habit of not disciplining, firing, or criminally charging officers in police shootings.
The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force released a preliminary report less than three days after the shooting of Jemel Roberson, Black security guard in Robbins, Ill, which contradicted what witnesses and Roberson's family attorney have said.
"I think, at this point, everybody's qualified and everyone should run," Obama said, in jest. "I might even tap Sasha!"
We've never had a POTUS and FLOTUS like the Obama's before, and we've never had a Trump before. Two very different presidencies, one wrought with bigotry, racism and rampant white supremacy, and scandal, the other full of hope, unity and service. Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama says we need to pay attention to who is qualified in the next presidential election.
"I implored people to focus and think about what it takes to be commander-in-chief," Obama told Robin Roberts in a "20/20" interview, in reference to women electing a misogynist in 2016 instead of a qualified female candidate.
She expressed the importance of voting, but went beyond that to describe the kind of person qualified to run this country.
"The commander in chief needs to have discipline, and read, and be knowledgeable. You need to know history, you need to be careful with your words," she said.
"I'm going to be looking to see who handles themselves and each other with dignity and respect so that by the time people get to the general (election), people aren't beat up and battered," the former first lady, who said she will not run for president, stressed.
"I think this (Democratic nomination) is open to any and everybody who has the courage to step up and serve."
She even joked that at this point, anyone is qualified to run for president —even her daughter.
"I think, at this point, everybody's qualified and everyone should run," she said on Good Morning America "I might even tap (her younger daughter) Sasha!"
.@MichelleObama on whether Hillary Clinton should run for president in 2020: "I think at this point everybody is qualified and everybody should run. I might even tap Sasha!" https://t.co/E6lGKfK6oR pic.twitter.com/Axrvs7SDZQ
— Good Morning America (@GMA) November 13, 2018
Obama and her husband were about service before, during and after the presidency.
Candidates like Trump, drunk with power, have a past, present, and future that mirror that intoxication.
Coming off midterms there are questions about what to do next — investigations of Trump, what lessons did we learn articles, predictions of the 2020 election, but getting back to what a leader, a public servant of this country is supposed to do — lead by serving its people — is a message that voters can review candidate criteria with.
"It's amazing to me that we still have to tell people about the importance of voting," she said. "People have to be educated, they have to be focused on the issues and they have to go to the polls if they want their politics to reflect their values."
Obama explained, "Where I'm at right now is that we should see anybody who feels the passion to get in this race, we need them in there. Let's see who wants to roll up their sleeves and get in the race. That's what the primary process is for."
In looking at Trump's record, most of his decisions have been made to serve himself. His record of cheating employees out of money, not paying taxes, discriminating against Blacks in terms of who could claim residency in his buildings, misogynistic comments, scandals around payoffs for affairs — none of it shows signs of service.
Obama writes in her new memoir "Becoming" how Trump's division and bigoted messaging tactics to garner a movement to propel his campaign impacted her own family's safety:
"The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks."
In current times, his decisions in the White House usually involve a lot of divisive words to spark attention from white supremacists, "look what I did" moments on twitter for validation, and little about what the country needs, but instead what the country should be afraid of.
And that is not why you get the job in the first place.
A white man stabbed Ann Marie Washington in a subway station and "started punching her in her face because she was Black," a witness said.
A 57-year-old Black woman is recovering from surgery to repair a collapsed lung because while exiting a subway in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was punched in the mouth and stabbed by a white man who called her a "Black b--ch" The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack as a hate crime.
The Children's Place may not be so welcoming if you're Black or Brown.
Miriam and Carlita Alejandro, Latinx sisters, shopping at The Children's Place in Camp Hill, Pa., got harassed by a nosey store clerk when they ask to price match clothes. A sales associate said the women were angry because they're on welfare.
Miriam said she was there to help a family who had lost everything in a fire by purchasing clothes for a child. Ms. Rhonda, the store clerk who was helping the ladies, said they may have to wait for the price check because the store was busy.
Miriam wrote on her Facebook page that she responded to Ms. Rhonda: "'Lancaster never gives us any issues or said such a thing, but okay.' Then Price Match Patty aka Genie who was never in our conversation started getting smart saying that we (my sister & I) 'were mad because we were on welfare.'"
Ms. Rhonda didn't know what to do when the Alejandro sisters reported what the nosey store employee said, but she attempted to chastise her. Miriam started recording to document the experience they had.
Price Match Patty has been fired, according to a company statement provided on Monday. Carlita Alejandro posted on Facebook that the company called and offered gift cards and reward points to continue spending her money at the retailer.
Because that's the way to handle your company's screw up-- buy off the people your employees have offended?
Alejandro wrote, "I will NEVER feel safe nor welcomed shopping their stores again!!"
The Children's Place has a history of discrimination. In 2000, they lost a lawsuit concerning profiling customers and had to provide anti-discrimination training in all stores in Massachusetts and hire a consultant to look at their policies.
Unrelated to the incident, two executives left the company this week (Pamela Wallack and Anurup Pruthi), "to pursue other opportunities" — the only minority and the only female in the C-Suite (other than the female CEO). The Children's Place Inc. has never participated in DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity competition.
CEO and president Jane Elfers said, "As we approach the last phase of our major systems implementations, the opportunity exists for significant efficiencies across the organization, and today we are announcing a more streamlined senior leadership structure."
Price Match Patty has not been fully identified yet, but some commenters on social media say she's married to a Black man, like Key Fob Kelly in St. Louis. That wouldn't excuse her behavior anyway.
Others say they have been profiled at that same store by Price Match Patty and others before:
Her racist comments cost Susan Westwood her job, her apartment, and gave her a criminal record.
Susan Westwood's racist rant landed her simple assault and criminal threats charges and a warrant after leaving the scene where she harassed the Garris sisters outside their Charlotte, N.C., apartment complex, threatening them with concealed weapons.
The fake 911 call she made saying that the sisters were trying to break in also earned her a misdemeanor warrant for misuse of the 911 system, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Westwood was booked by Sunset Beach Police on Saturday and transferred to the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department. She was later released.
The Garris sisters' attorney, Michael Phillips, brought up the safety issue in terms of concealed weapons and threats to residents to the Camden Fairview Apartments attorneys, and they agreed to evict Westwood.
"When I spoke with them and their legal counsel they agreed that that behavior was not going to be tolerated at their apartment complex," Phillips said.
Westwood had threatened to take out her concealed weapons after telling the sisters that she was white and hot, and that they didn't belong there.
The 911 call Westwood made was released by police:
"There are folks that are trying to break in. They're trying to get in the apartments. They are actually people that I've never seen here before ― but they are African American."
When the dispatcher said that police were already responding to a broken down car in that area, Westwood replied: "If you want to know my personal opinion, there's no car broken down. There's somebody trying to cause problems. Nobody breaks their car down in the best part of society."
"They just don't belong here. … Get them out of here," Westwood demanded. "I'll tell you what, I'll pay $2,500 to get them out of here."
In a recording of a call made by Garris, she told another dispatcher that she was still waiting for police while Westwood was harassing her.
Westwood was heard screaming, "You're not going to sell drugs here."
Garris had to call 911 twice to get a response about Westwood, and when they showed up Westwood had already gone. She was MIA for four days, before turning herself in.
"We are so distraught and still very upset about what has taken place only because of the color of our skin. It was so upsetting to know that today we still have this overt racism that's going on in 2018," said one of the sisters.
Cohen said Trump commented in 2016: "Black people are too stupid to vote for me."
Returned during W's presidency, the murderer was released by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's department.
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Thousands protested for the 11 lives lost, the two victims in Louisville, and the many more stifled by President Trump's racism and bigotry.
Trump visited the synagogue on Tuesday and left.
On Wednesday he tweeted, "The Office of the President was shown great respect on a very sad & solemn day. Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away. The Fake News stories were just the opposite-Disgraceful!"
Nearly 70,000 people as of Tuesday signed the petition from the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc to demand Trump stay away from Pittsburgh.
Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, had asked Trump to reschedule his visit to respect the grieving families and funerals.
Steven Halle, a nephew of one of the victims, Daniel Stein, rejected a meeting with Trump because of his comments blaming the synagogue for not having an armed guard to stop the gunman "immediately."
"Everybody feels that they were inappropriate," Halle said of Trump's comments. "A church, a synagogue, should not be a fortress. It should be an open, welcoming place to feel safe," he continued.
But Trump didn't care and came for his photo ops, and to promote Republican candidate Keith Rothfus via Twitter:
Yesterday in Pittsburgh I was really impressed with Congressman Keith Rothfus (far more so than any other local political figure). His sincere level of compassion, grief and sorrow for the events that took place was, in its own way, very inspiring. Vote for Keith!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Trump told Fox News on Monday night:
"I'm also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people that were so badly hurt," Trump said. "I really look forward to going. I would have done it even sooner, but I didn't want to disrupt any more than they already had disruption."
But his visit was drowned out by thousands who took to the streets of the city to protest, marching toward the synagogue, singing songs, and holding signs that said, ""Refugees Are Not Invaders," "Pittsburgh Builds Bridges Not Walls" and "Pittsburgh Welcomes All Who Don't Hate."
"It's an unbelievable image that we're looking at. These are peaceful protesters, walking along, grieving about the tragic death of 11 of their neighbors in a synagogue on Saturday, and protesting the presence of Donald Trump, the president, in their community today." pic.twitter.com/AuZbQxIq0o
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 30, 2018
Tuesday evening, Tracy Baton, director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Women's March on Washington, stood on the steps of the Sixth Presbyterian Church and spoke to thousands:
Those who "would insert themselves on a national stage, into a city in mourning, before the dead are buried, is unacceptable," she said. "Those that would limit our neighbors' vote, that would foment hate against the Jewish community, Muslim community, people of color, LGBTQ people, as well as wage a war on women's bodies, are not welcome here!"
Jewish group IfNotNow organized a protest and sat shiva. Organizer and Pittsburgh resident Diana Clarke told the crowd, "We are here to mourn the 11 Jewish people who were killed on Saturday. We are here to mourn the two black people who were
shot by a white nationalist in Louisville, Kentucky, last week."
"I think that Donald Trump represents white nationalism and white supremacy, and that has no place in the mourning lives lost to exactly those systems that his administration upholds," Clarke told HuffPost.
"We have people who can't sit shiva because you're blocking our streets!" the Rev. Susan Rothenberg, a Presbyterian minister screamed at Trump when he arrived. "These people can't grieve! You're causing them pain!"
She continued, "You only care about you! You are not welcome on my street! These are my neighbors that were killed! You are not welcome in Squirrel Hill! Do you understand that?"