On Friday evening at Monroe and Hall of Fame, many OSU students and faculty gathered to protest recent events concerning the deaths of unarmed African-Americans at the hands of police officers. The protest was led by the Oklahoma Students for Solidarity.
Posters and signs were held high as student leaders Ayah Abo-Basha and Jeremiah Murray led chants along the protest route, which ran south from the intersection down Monroe and to the Edmon Low Library fountain.
Before the protest began, OSU Police Department Chief of Police Michael Robinson arrived on scene in an unmarked police vehicle and spoke to protesters before escorting them through Monroe.
At one point protesters blocked the intersection, creating tense moments between police, protesters and drivers along the route.
In one instance the driver of a BMW entered a standoff with Abo-Basha at the crosswalk. Other drivers honked or shouted obscenities at the protesters demanding them to leave, including “white power."
The aim of the protest was to “disrupt the status quo” and draw attention to the issues at hand concerning what many believe to be a prejudiced criminal justice system, Murray said.
At the end of the protest in front of the Edmon Low library, protesters participated in a 4 1/2-minute die-in, intended to symbolize the 4 1/2 hours Michael Brown's body laid in the street after being shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Evan Woodson, the group’s media liaison, took questions after the die-in at Edmon Low Library.
He said the protest was intended toward not only the police department or the university, but to the community as well. Even though no shootings similar to that of Ferguson, New York, or Cleveland have occurred in Stillwater, a message was needed in hopes to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring here.
“While we haven’t had a case of this in Stillwater, at OSU, we don’t want to wait until it happens," Woodson said. "What we want to do is send a loving, peaceful, non-violent message to President Hargis, to the university, to Stillwater PD and the OSU Police Department that we are not going to stand for the types of things that are going on around the country, and even places here in Oklahoma."
After the conclusion of the die-in at the library, the group released a list of three demands for the university in relation to some recent events on campus.
Firstly, it demanded that OSU open a formal investigation to uncover who was responsible for the hate speech that occurred on Oct. 24 directed at the Delta Sigma Theta sorority through Unseen, an app that claims to keep its users anonymous.
Secondly, it demanded that Oklahoma State issue a public statement reiterating its intolerance for discrimination by displaying transparency in the investigation.
Its last demand asked OSU President Burns Hargis and Lee Bird, vice president of Student Affairs, to agree to meet with representatives from Oklahoma Students for Solidarity to further discuss a more detailed list of demands.