Human Rights

Singing protesters take a stand against student arrests

Photo by Heather Willard
Written by Erin Franczak

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect a correction.  A previous version stated police asked protesters to relocate. That is incorrect, and we apologize for the error. 

A group of protesters walked from the United Campus Ministry to Baker Center on singing to show support for the students who were arrested during Wednesday’s sit-in.

Protestors march from UCM to Baker University Center. Photo by Heather Willard

Protestors march from UCM to Baker University Center. Photo by Heather Willard

Assistant professor of women’s and gender studies Patty Stokes said she organized the Thursday afternoon event both to protest the student arrests and to reject President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Her goal was to peacefully sing songs that would not cause any disturbances.

Event organizers Patty Stokes speaks to those assembled. Photo by Heather Willard

Event organizers Patty Stokes speaks to those assembled. Photo by Heather Willard

“If we are told that we are being disruptive and need to leave, we’ll go outside in front of fourth floor Baker. If we are told there that we’re disruptive, then our plan is to go to the (Civil War) monument,” said Melissa Wales, another organizer and the executive director of UCM.

Protestors gathered on the fourth floor of Baker to peacefully protest the student arrests at Wednesday's sit-in. Photo by Heather Willard

Protestors gathered on the fourth floor of Baker to peacefully protest the student arrests at Wednesday’s sit-in. Photo by Heather Willard

 

“I was at the rally last night that the students had organized in response to the executive order banning students from seven predominantly Muslim countries,” said Wales, who left the protest early but continued to watch on social media. “I was just absolutely outraged when I started seeing OU students be arrested, when I saw Baker Ballroom turned into a holding pen for students. And there was some alumni there as well, peacefully speaking out for the most marginal group of students.”   

Protesters relocated to the fifth floor at approximately 5:30 p.m. Photo by Heather Willard

Protesters relocated to the fifth floor at approximately 5:30 p.m. Photo by Heather Willard

At 5:20 p.m., the marchers moved to the fifth floor. Baker Center employees asked them to leave the fourth floor because they were disrupting the traffic flow.

Some students who witnessed the singing joined in.

“I thought it was the saddest thing ever,” said Cody Huebner, who studies business management and strategic leadership. “I was at the protest at the courthouse originally, but I think it’s really not fair.”

At the conclusion of the sing-in, Stokes emphasized the importance of peaceful protesting.

“It’s really important that our community, whether it’s Ohio University, whether it’s students, whether it’s faculty, whether it’s people who have lived here for 80 years or moved here last month, we all stand up in the name of humanity and love and decency.”

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Erin Franczak

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