Students protest racial slurs

Students and community members march across Eastern Michigan University’s campus in solidarity after hate speech graffiti was found at King and Wise halls. ADAM KARR | THE EASTERN ECHO

Students and community members march across Eastern Michigan University’s campus in solidarity after hate speech graffiti was found at King and Wise halls. ADAM KARR | THE EASTERN ECHO

By Chanel Stitt
Contributor

On Sept. 20, hundreds of protesters from Eastern Michigan University and other parts of Ypsilanti gathered. The protesters walked through all of the buildings on EMU’s campus.

They yelled, “No justice, no peace,” all the way to Washtenaw Avenue. Traffic had been stopped at the intersection of Washtenaw Avenue and Hewitt Road and Eastern Michigan Police rushed to clear it. One car attempted to drive through the protesters, no one was injured.

Racial slurs had been spray painted on a wall in the Julia Anne King Hall courtyard which displayed “KKK” painted in red, white and blue; and also painted was the phrase, “leave n****rs.”

Protesters constructed signs that used different wording although shared the same message of not backing down during a march across EMU campus.

Protesters constructed signs that used different wording although shared the same message of not backing down during a march across EMU campus.

Many people gathered at the Eastern Michigan University President’s home right outside of campus. University President James Smith spoke out to all the students and also allowed people to share their opinions. He talked about the removal process of the graffiti as well.

“I understand that removing something doesn’t mean that somehow it doesn’t exist,” said Smith.

“The atmosphere was very enthusiastic and loud. You could tell that everybody that was there was passionate about the message,” said Jazzlyn Robinson, a student at Eastern Michigan University.

On Sept. 21, it happened again. And this time, in a staircase of Wise Hall. Wednesday’s incident read “n****rs” on the side of a brick wall.

“The slurs made me beyond mad. It made me think, ‘how can someone be so careless to do something like that?’ This is a diverse school,” said Deandre Webster, a protester and student at Eastern Michigan University.

The night of Sept. 23, the EMU students united under the Black Lives Matter movement at their football game. The students walked onto the field, held up their right fists and chanted, “We stand up, we fight back, when black lives are under attack.”

The football players were not let on the field during the national anthem due to safety precautions.

“We strongly defend the right of students to peacefully demonstrate about issues important to them,” said Smith. The peaceful protest at the football game was supported by the campus and posted all over Facebook and YouTube.

There has already been protesting happening in cities across the nation for the Black Lives Matter movement.

People have different views on what Black Lives Matter means to them.
“To me, Black Lives Matter is a movement for the black community to raise awareness about how we are tired of being oppressed, senselessly murdered by police, and not receiving equal treatment as other races. It’s a movement that will not rest until something is done about these issues,” said Webster.

“People believe Black Lives Matter is a violent segregation movement, which just isn’t true. The vocal minority outshine the peaceful majority,” said Marc Anthony Davis, a student at Washtenaw Community College.

“We’re fed up with the grotesque amount of numerous social and institutional injustices that have failed the American people for too long,” said Jayson Wright, a student at the University of Michigan.   
Local residents were also upset about the graffiti and spoke upon how they feel about the slurs and living in the Ypsilanti community itself.
“I feel the perpetrator was trying to… almost mock the black community,” said Parker Bunton, a resident of Ypsilanti for 18 years.
“I really think Ypsilanti has been changing lately now. The city has been more active than I’ve ever seen, especially in Depot Town,” said Josiah Foster, an Ypsilanti resident.
Students, professors, and the president have all been working together to keep the positivity and peace going on campus. Ypsilanti residents have also been participating in creating the peace again.
“Eastern Michigan University has valued peace and diversity. There’s been a lot of emails, events, and positive quotes all over campus since these events,” said Rocke Jones, a student at Eastern Michigan University.
 Now seems to be a good time to remember that our differences should serve to bring us together and provide learning opportunities to honor all cultures and backgrounds, WCC President Rose Bellanca said in an email statement.

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