Black Lives Matter rally at UNF met with protest

Tiffany Salameh

Video by Jack Drain

“Black lives matter” rang through campus Wednesday afternoon as students chanted and cheered on the Green to protest police brutality. The rally was organized by the newly founded student group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

The protest was described as a “non-violent rally” on the group’s Facebook event page and lasted about an hour, involving speakers from the White and Woke group and SDS. Some speakers recited poems while others told stories and explained why they support Black Lives Matter (BLM).

“My little brother, he’s 17 years old, he’s got dreads, he’s a teddy bear, he plays in the band and he wouldn’t hurt a butterfly,” Dominique Thompson, a senior English major, said. “But somebody could look at him and be afraid of him and hurt him and that scares me.”

Things got heated at the BLM rally after students wearing “Trump Pence 2016” stickers showed up to voice their opinions. These students booed and shouted “Trump 2016” and “then don’t break the law.” Students from the pool of protesters responded back by shouting back “go home” and “shut the f–k up.”

Despite this, the rally remained non-violent.

Zachary Stephens, a freshman studying political science, participated in protests against the BLM chanters and said he supports the Black Lives Matter movement as long what is said is kept factual.

“When they said that more blacks are being killed, that was an incorrect statement,” Stephens said. “According to the FBI in 2014, 50 percent of all police homicides were committed against white

people. Only 26 percent were black. That in itself speaks for how invalid that statement is.”

Students gathered and listened to a handful of guest speakers before the chants and counter-chants began. Cookies and signs advocating for the cause were available at no cost to attendees before the rally.

Most students who came out to the rally were happy to see the BLM movement on campus.

“I’m really glad that they’re doing this today because my cousin, this summer, was shot by a police officer and he was unarmed,” Thompson said. “My family, we’re black, I can’t remove their skin color to protect them.”

While some students participated in the chanting of things like “black lives matter” and “stand up fight back,” one student sat crisscross on the Green, about a hundred feet from the protesters, silently holding a sign that read “Police Lives Matter.”

Jared Rubin sat in protest of the BLM rally. Photo by Brittany Moore
Jared Rubin sat in protest of the BLM rally.
Photo by Brittany Moore

Jared Rubin, freshman exercise science major, was the man behind the sign.

“I have friends and family who are police officers that put their lives on the line everyday to keep people safe,” Rubin said. “I think that the Black Lives Matter movement kind of fuels racism.”

The BLM rally certainly gave students of all opinions a chance to have their voices heard.


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