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After hours of protesting, nearly 100 Ohio University students finally got the result they wanted. Baker University Center officials agreed to keep the building open until students felt ready to go home.
Students were left talking in smaller groups after the larger protest at 1 am. They spoke about their experiences, feelings, and how they hope to change OU.
Just before 9 pm yesterday, the students gathered at the Civil War Monument to listen to the ruling of Michael Brown’s case.
The decision made by a Missouri grand jury was not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18 year old Michael Brown. The incident that occurred on August 9th has the country up in arms. Reports today reveal police squad vehicles and American flags have been lit on fire in protest of the decisions made.
Following the gathering at the monument, students marched to Ohio University’s Baker Center. On the 4th floor, students continued the conversation.
Emotions ran wild as students talked about a variety of topics yet the protest remained peaceful. Many came with signs and banners. Eventually students, despite not having the permission of the university hung those banners. One of the signs said, “Stop Killing Us” and another “Black Lives Matter.”
“Anyone of us could be Mike Brown,” a black student said as the conversation continued about how safe black students felt on OU’s campus.
Ohio University student Pop Peterson talked about his pessimism toward the future of our country.
“[Charles Manson] got a trial. But my people are getting gunned down in the street,” Peterson said, “I don’t even know if I’m willing to fight anymore.”
Junior Jacob Shelton explained how white Americans don’t even see the privilege they’re granted.
“Maybe if I was white, if I stole a Snicker bar, I’d be OK, but as a black man, if I steal it, I have a chance that I might get eight shots put in me,” he said.
Baker was set to close at 12 and police were expected to arrive.
"I'm not leaving until someone physically forces me,” one student said.
After students made it clear that they weren’t moving, Vice President Ryan Lombardi announced that Baker would remain open until students were ready to leave.
“We just made the decision because we felt like today was a very unique day in our country and felt like, obviously, a lot of students needed to come together and find a space to heal together and support each other….and we didn’t want to disrupt that,” Lombardi said.
One protest leader, Ryant Taylor, outlined the demands the group made for the university. They included a diversity class requirement taught by minorities and an increase in diverse staff.
"My entire existence has been about making white people comfortable," said one African-American student.
"People talk about watermelons and laugh but do I always have to ignore my feelings to make other people comfortable,” another student said, referring to the movie, “Dear White People.”
Another highly controversial demand included forcing all law enforcement entering Baker to be disarmed.
"I'm a black man and not scared of OUPD. Why are we calling for them to be disarmed? Don't make this an issue," said one student who opposed the demand.
Vice President of Student Senate Caitlyn McDaniels held a strong voice at the protest but has no predictions for the future of Ohio University.
“It’s going to take time for everyone to talk through the issues. What happen[ed here will] hopefully influence and effect the discourse in Ohio, the discourse in the United States, and beyond.
Many students have already left for break, but Ohio University freshman Esther Brueggemann tells students to “be ready to come back to campus…and continue to raise hell.”
Other events throughout the night included a silent protest, a speech by Dean of Students Jenny Hall Jones, and calling on administration for change.