BSU Holds Vigil and Protest for Lives Lost to Police Brutality
On Mon. Apr 6, Black Students United (BSU) Held End Police Violence event to honor people lost to police violence and experience grief together. The event was advertised on social media as a way for Beloit Students to join BSU in their fight to “honor the people we have lost to police violence”.
About 150 Beloit College students arrived at Pearson’s Quad at 6 P.M, where they were greeted by BSU Executive Board and Former President. The leader opened the vigil by calling attention to ways in which police violence exists in the Beloit community, including the increase in city funds to the Police Department. According to the 2016 General Funds Expenditures, Police received $11,518,510, compared to 2020’s designated $12,382,903, both at a large 38% of Beloit City Funds.
BSU’s Vice President followed with an acknowledgement of the native land the college was built on. They asked participants to place one hand on the grass while they read the names of the indeginous groups, the Potawatomi, Peoria, Miami, Meskwaki, and Ho-Chunk peoples, who once inhabited the area. They also lead a call-and-repeat chant advising the group to keep mask and social distancing policy and not to engage with any police.
The Executive Board then led the group on the planned march from Pearson’s Quad past the Neese Theatre Building, down Pleasant St., to stop at the downtown intersection of Grand and Pleasant St.. During the walk, protesters began chanting, saying “No justice, no peace”, and shouting the names of Black and Brown lives lost to police violence. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, M’Kiyah Bryant, and Adam Toledo, names and victims, were mentioned, among dozens of others.
When they arrived at the intersection, student protesters formed a large circle, blocking traffic flow and forcing oncoming drivers to turn around. Members of the Voces Latinx club carried flowers and placed them in the center of the formation. At one point, the vases were knocked over by the wind, but two students were able to prop them up with two skateboards.
After continued chanting, BSU and protesters held 9min and 26sec of silence, the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. During this time, a truck backed up near students, no more than 3ft away from where they stood, and spun it’s tires concerningly close.
At approximately 6:30 P.M, the first of two police cars arrived on the scene and approached event organizers. About ten minutes later, an additional police car arrived, at which time organisers decided it was time to return to campus.
The group took the same route back, and as they passed the Scoville Center, an assisted living facility, two older white men yelled obscenities at protesters through their windows. Upon arriving at Pearson’s Quad, students began to disperse. The flowers and vigil ornaments will be displayed at BSU house indefinitely.
According to The Beloit Daily News, some students acknowledged they were from Beloit College but none would speak to the press.
Beloit Police Chief Andre Sayles told The Beloit Daily News the department had no prior knowledge of the protest, comparing it to the protests in June and July, when the department was made aware ahead of time and was able to plan safety and traffic routes with organizers.
Comments made on the news publication’s facebook post of their article border on threatening, with claims such as “Next time I won’t stop”, and This is why I always carry extra water bottles….. they are easy to throw”.