By Cheyanne Williams
On Wednesday, February 28th, the Black Cultural Center (BCC) held a “Emergency Action: Walk -Out!” at 11:50 a.m.
At this time, students of color and their allies walked out of classes and gathered in the Damen Student Center.
The walkout was in response to an incident that transpired between two Loyola students and Loyola’s campus safety officers during a Loyola men’s basketball game on Saturday, February 23rd.
A video of the incident shows campus officers handcuffing and detaining two Loyola students of color. Many felt the officers were using excessive force against the students, who were confronting the officers over the detainment of two other individuals of color outside the game.
The BCC, along with many other students, are protesting the way officers conducted themselves, and the University’s response.
At the BCC event, Alan Campbell, one of the students who was detained by police, and Robin Branton, the president of BCC, spoke on behalf of the group.
Campbell said he felt a great injustice had been done to him because of his color. He also explained that he felt Paloma Fernandez, the second student, was targeted because she is a student of color.
Branton stated the demands the BCC has for Loyola’s administration.
He said, “Today, we are here to stand in solidarity with Alan and Paloma to support them, and more importantly, to ensure that no situation like this ever occurs again on Loyola University Chicago’s campus. In order to take the proper steps needed to make Loyola a safer place for the students of color on this campus, we have formulated a list of demands to that will be presented to administration that we expect them to respect.”
Those demands include:
- No disciplinary repercussions for Alan Campbell or Paloma Fernandez
- A direct and formal apology from the University to the students affected and the larger Community, acknowledging and taking full responsibility for the excessive force of their officer
Some people felt this event allowed other students to see that students of color are perpetually underserved, undervalued and underrepresented.
Arielle Krahenbuhl, Vice President of BCC, said, “Regardless of what happened before the video it was unnecessary for the use of excessive force against unarmed students.”
Not everyone sides with the students in this situation. Amanda Harris, a bystander, said, “I get their concerns, but I think they’re overexaggerating. For instance, They described the police as strangling her in the Phoenix article written, but in the video it looks like he just grabbed her by the collar.”
In response to Harris, Branton said, “But that’s not the point. The point is the police used unnecessary excessive force. Whether it was justified or not, it’s wrong. There were so many problematic things apparent in the video and even if it was overexaggerated it was wrong and the officers need to be held accountable for what they did.”