Students cry out for social change and an end to police brutality during campus march
By Aaron Marshall
As more than 700 Ohio State students marched down the 12th Avenue sidewalk, passing cars blared their horns in support as loud chanting from protestors began to echo through the campus streets—“BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
Amidst the swirl of peaceful protestors dressed in black, fourth-year Young Scholars Program student Rayonna Booth gave voice to what had brought so many out to protest the death of George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. “I'm just here because it's the right thing to do,” said Booth, her long braids swaying as she walked. “It's a simple showing of humanity, it's showing we care about our community, our people, Black lives.” Booth was one of many Office of Diversity and Inclusion scholars and staff who attended the march including contingents from the Young Scholars Program, Morrill Scholarship Program, Bell National Resource Center and Latinx Student Success.
During the three-hour protest on a sunbaked Saturday afternoon, throngs of chanting students wound their way through campus before gathering on the south Oval behind Hale Hall, home to The Ohio State University's revered Hale Black Cultural Center.
As the students sat on the grassy slope, organizers spoke from a small stage about the importance of staying committed to fighting racial injustice and inequality, student activism on campus and allyship from people of all walks of life.
Jesse Fernandez, a fifth-year student in exercise science and member of the Latino Student Association, told the crowd that they must be committed to standing in solidarity with Black students leading the fight. “Allyship isn't a hat you can put on when you get media attention,” he said. “Allyship is not a business, it doesn't have an opening or closing time.”
One of the students speaking to the crowd Saturday was third-year Ose Arheghan, a Morrill Scholarship student who was involved in organizing the protest. The political science and Chinese major urged students to sign an online letter being circulated asking for the university to cut ties with the Columbus police department.
That letter, written by the presidents of Ohio State's Undergraduate Student Government, Council of Graduate Students and Inter-Professional Council, demands the university and University Police cease on-campus operations with Columbus Police and review contracts with Columbus Police for off-campus activities. It has gathered more than 20,000 signatures online.