The UNO police and university administrators are attempting to cover up their officer’s misconduct at last week’s demonstration by charging 2 of our fellow students with false charges and banning one of them from campus. This is endangering their futures and producing a chilling effect on student organizing on campus. This is an impudent attempt by them to justify the violence police officers used last week, when they hit students with batons and maced one of them during a peaceful procession through the administration building that was trying to make its way to the amphitheater for a speak out against the budget cuts. Staff in the administration building came to their doorways clapping and cheering as the chanting and smiling students filed passed them in the hallway.The atmosphere was festive, joyful and peaceful until Chief Harrington’s failure to train his officers and failure to adequately coordinate their response to the demonstration resulted in conflicting orders being given by officers and eventually, outright violence and chaos by those officers due to Harrington’s mistakes.
Instead of admitting a mistake was made in the policing of the demonstration, the administration and the chief are trying to circle their wagons, to protect themselves from criticism, and deflect blame out onto students, by using the false charges that have been laid against the 2 arrested students in an attempt to justify their savage actions.
We will not stand by and let this injustice happen, because it could have been any one of the 200 of us in that crowd that the police could have beat up and arrested. And as long as this tactic of trying to cover up their mistakes by unjustly retaliating against students happens, students will be scared that they may be the unlucky one at the next demonstration to be set upon in a hallway by four baton-wielding officers, or that they may be the next one to be maced and arrested without cause. That is not the climate that is supposed to exist on a university campus. People should not have to fear speaking out, especially for a cause like stopping the budget cuts, which is trying to save the university itself from ruin.
Demonstrations on UNO’s campus can either be supported by the administration, and used as an argument to pressure policymakers at the state level into stopping the cuts, or they can choose to repress and attack their own student body, which is what we witnessed first-hand last week. How they respond is their choice, because the demonstrations will continue as long as the budget cuts keep happening. We hope to see the Chancellor come out to the next demonstration and speak to the students, and stand with us in this fight. We encourage everyone to attend the Chancellor’s forum on September 16th and ask him whose side he is really on. We also encourage everyone to contact the Chancellor now (504-280-5536) and demand that he drops the charges and stops using them to cover up for the mistakes the police made last Wednesday.
We refuse to abide the old style Louisiana politics of cover-ups, nepotism, retaliation, and repression on our campus or in our state any longer, and we will stand united in our call for an end to the budget cuts and an end to the false charges against the arrested students that are being used to cover-up police misconduct. Join us in these calls, and make your voice heard in any way you can. We’ve got each others’ backs, and this knowledge inspires us to summon the strength to continue this fight, together.
Let our hope conquer our fear and despondency, because together we can win!
Here is an article from a UNO student journalist that also digs into the false rumors and accusations the UNO PD and Chief Harrington are using to attempt to justify their actions. It is worth reading.
Please pass around a petition in your classes and to your friends to ask the Chancellor to stop the punishment of these students, and bring it to the Chancellor’s Forum on Thursday at 12:30pm in the Kirschman Hall (business building) atrium.
Here’s a pro-student movement, anti-repression poster that has been recently sighted in several places at UNO.