Hundreds gather and call for accountability after Tuesday’s reported assault
UPDATE: The case report and the names of the alleged assailants have since been released
Hundreds of students and community members gathered in solidarity this afternoon with the student victim of Tuesday’s assault.
The protest was organized by the Black Student Union after the alleged assailants, who reportedly yelled racial slurs before attacking a black student, were initially referred to a division program. The alleged assailants were charged with class 1 misdemeanor assault, a fact which was revealed to the student body in an email sent out an hour before the protest began.
The protest began shortly after 2 p.m. in front of the Administration building. Protestors wore black to express solidarity with the victim. Guidelines for the protest were circulated on social media.
Speakers standing on the steps of the building began the rally with chants such as “Our name is not [N-word.]” According to reports, the alleged assailants called the black student the n-word before attacking him. Other chants included “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and “What do we want? Justice!”
The first speaker, pre-nursing student and BSU member Maryan Hassan, criticized law enforcement’s handling of Tuesday’s alleged assault and called for the University of Arizona Police Department to be held accountable for their actions.
“I think that [UAPD] need to be held accountable, not just for this instance, but for every instance that was not looked at or acknowledged,” Hassan said. “They need to be held accountable for their bullshit because they’re not doing their fucking jobs right.”
The second speaker, UA student and BSU member Fredian*, said that UAPD needed to be investigated after their conduct on Tuesday.
“UAPD needs to take ownership of … this injustice,” Fredian said. “This violation of our black bodies. This violation of all people of color on this campus. And that needs to be now. And the only way they do that is with some pressure. When the media is on this, they get on this. When their image is in question, they act.”
Audience members were allowed to come up and share their stories regarding the way they have been treated as people of color, both on campus and outside of school.
Several said they were hurt and angry over the incident and the way the university treats people of color in general. Others pointed out the unequal ways white students and students of color are punished. One speaker said that the university loves its black athletes and the money black students pay in tuition, but not black students themselves.
Some speakers called for administrators to be fired. Another urged students of color to use the “buddy system” at night for their own safety. Several asked for the basic humanity as black people to be recognized.
The crowd was comprised of over 100 students and community members. Many were holding signs with phrases such as, “Solidarity over white supremacy,” "Our tuition > our safety,” and “Blackness should be upheld, not beaten down.”
At least one heckler was spotted among the crowd, telling the protestors to, “Go back in the classroom.”
At around 2:40 p.m., the protesters began to march west, heading past the UA Mall, Old Main and the Cesar E. Chavez Building.
Prior to the protest, people gathered in the Martin Luther King Jr. Building, home of the BSU and African American Student Affairs, to go over plans for the rally. During the protest, people wearing blue armbands were available with water for the marchers and people with red armbands were able to administer first aid.
University of Arizona Police Department student liaisons were also at the rally and march, many of them holding neon green signs with phrases such as “Your ignorance is death” and “Your ignorance is violence.”
UAPD officers, mostly on motorcycles, were stationed at points along the route, including at the intersection of University Boulevard and Park Avenue, where the assault reportedly took place. The marchers paused at that intersection, until an okay was given to continue forward, down University Boulevard.
Motorists honked their horns at the protesters and some raised their fists in solidarity. The marchers continued to chant phrases such as “Do your fucking job!” and “What does solidarity look like? This is what solidarity looks like!”
The marchers continued down University Boulevard, turning left on Euclid Avenue and then left again on Fifth Street, stopping in front of Coronado Residence Hall at around 3 p.m. There, they raised their fists and held a moment of silence in solidarity with the victim. Here, more community members told their stories.
The protesters marched back to Old Main. On the back steps of the building, Hassan read the BSU’s demands. Their official demands, which were released after the protest read as follows:
“We demand consequences for the assaulters and officers who perpetuating the continued suffering of our Black Students of the University of Arizona. We demand the expulsion of the two assaulters, who deliberated racially motivated attacks upon a Black student as well as the release of the Incident Report. We demand an explanation of why the racial aspect of the assault wasn’t included in the public report and the assault was not treated as a Hate Crime. We demand a reassessment and retraining of the University of Arizona Police Department officer’s cultural competency training," according to the written demands from BSU.
The protest ended behind Old Main at around 3:30 p.m. People were invited back to the MLK Building for a debrief.
“I feel like it’s the beginning,” sociology freshman Tanner Brown said after the protest. “That this is going to either unite us, or at least bring exposure.”
*This student’s last name is being withheld to protect their privacy
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