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Hate Crime on the Powerhouse Bridge

When the city of Beloit ordered for the removal of Beloit College’s Black Lives Matter banners from the Powerhouse Bridge, students were irate. The city claims that the expression ‘Black Lives Matter’ is political, and that political banners are not permitted to hang from the bridge. However, Democratic representatives for the city argue that the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not political at all, but that it is rather a plea for a socially just world.

Upon receiving the news via email that the banners were required to be removed by the City of Beloit, the students of Beloit College were perplexed as to why the college chose not to fight such an order. Students at Art Haus began the resistance against the city’s ordinance, organizing an event wherein students could come and paint their own Black Lives Matter posters. These posters were hung along the bridge in a pattern that spelled out ‘BLM.’ 

This act of resistance only angered citizens of Beloit further. An email sent out on Monday, October 12th by Beloit College Director of Security, Bruce Heine states that, on Sunday, October 11th at 2:32am, a white male in camouflage pulled up to the Powerhouse bridge on a bicycle and hung a Confederate flag beneath the student-created Black Lives Matter posters. This act was caught on the Sports Center security camera, and the flag was removed shortly after by a passing Beloit College Security Officer. 

In light of this hate act, students are outraged. President Scott Bierman sent out a campus-wide email addressing the act, and assuring students that an investigation is underway to track down the culprit. Students for an Inclusive Campus scheduled an impromptu meeting Monday evening for students to attend via Zoom and discuss the hate act. On Wednesday, Black Students United did the same. 

For the students of Beloit College, the fact that an investigation is underway offers very little comfort. We are perplexed by the city’s comment that the Black Lives Matter banners were ‘political,’ but that there is so little outrage among residents concerning the raising of a Confederate flag on our campus. All we as a student body ask for is a socially just world where we can all live harmoniously. The politics weigh in when outsiders feel so strongly about keeping the American people divided that they are bold enough to decorate the bridge on a college campus with a flag whose history is rooted in racism and the idea that slavery was positive because it boosted the American economy. 

Thank you, Beloit College students, for being so passionate about standing for what you believe in. As a biracial woman, it makes me feel so good to know that I am surrounded by people on campus who care about my life, who care about bringing justice to my people. Thank you, Black Students United, for providing a safe space for Black students to voice their concerns and to feel a sense of community. Keep up the solidarity, Beloit — we need it now more than ever. 

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