Members of the Black Student Union staged a protest on Library Walk on April 4, the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, criticizing anti-blackness on UCSD’s campus, demanding justice for police brutality victim Stephon Clark, and calling attention to other issues. The demonstrators stood in two lines with their backs against each other across the pathway near the Bookstore and the Student Health Services building to block foot traffic and then ultimately marched toward Geisel Library.
Clad in black tee-shirts, many of the participants held signs with phrases such as “SPACES IS ANTI-BLACK” and “OASIS IS ANTI-BLACK,” which refer to two student resource centers, as well as “Black Lives Matter” and “Love Us Like You Love Our Culture.”
Many of the slogans were also directed at police brutality such as “Being Black Is Not a Crime,” “Police the Police,” and particularly “Justice for Stephon Clark.” Clark, an unarmed black man, was shot at 20 times by two Sacramento police officers while standing in his grandmother’s backyard. The officers have claimed that they perceived his cell phone to be a weapon, but the incident has sparked protests nationwide.
The protesters also called out the absence of black students at UCSD, specifically that African American students, according to Institutional Research’s enrollment statistics, consistently makeup only two percent of the undergraduate student body and are therefore the smallest ethnic group on campus behind Native Americans.
Although the demonstration was mostly silent, chants of “black lives matter” and “fuck your inconvenience” broke out. Observers were also able to speak with those involved, which led to several tense moments when some questioned the participants’ causes.
Other protests were held by American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 3299, the union for UC employees, at other campuses such as Berkeley and UCLA that same day, but this demonstration, led by the Black Student Union, did not appear to be related.
The event organizers declined to comment.
Photo by David Juarez // UCSD Guardian