7 of the 70 Ohio University students arrested during last week’s protest in Baker University Center pleaded not guilty to a trespassing misdemeanor Thursday in addition to 14 other students who were arraigned Monday.
The students charged in connection with trespassing conducted a sit-in to emphasize their belief that Ohio University should become a sanctuary campus in response to the executive order signed by President Trump in January.
“I think the protests and the large amount of arrests have really incited conversations throughout the campus and community about what these four years are going to look like,” said Kim Reynolds, media liaison for the sit-in and a senior studying media and social change. “How do we protest? How does the administration and police react to these demonstrations? What message is this administration sending and what precedent is being set.”
Fellow students gathered at the courthouse to support those being arraigned with signs reading “We got you” and “solidarity forever,” along with doughnuts and other treats.
Following this week’s hearings, OUPD Chief Andrew Powers sent an email explaining the department’s rationale for the arrests, as well as why the protesters were considered to be trespassing.
“I have been asked about dropping the charges against the people arrested,” Powers wrote. “In response I would point out that our legal system was set up to ensure an impartial review of police actions by a court. To that end, I believe the proper course of action is to allow that review to take place — as we do with everyone else we arrest each year — rather than subverting our judicial process by dropping the charges.”
The majority of the students will stand trial on Feb. 16.