As the sun began to set Wednesday evening, around 300 Miami University students and staff members, Oxford community members and others gathered in a protest against white supremacy. People of a range of ages, races and religions stood together in solidarity around the Sundial before marching around campus.
The event began at 8:30 p.m., just as Mega Fair was wrapping up on Central Quad. Miami students De’Vante Montgomery and Clara Guerra organized the event on Facebook and had the support of several groups on campus such as F-Word, Spectrum and College Democrats.
Speakers at the rally included Spectrum president Hannah Abigail Clarke; Lesley Jones, who lead a similar rally on Miami’s campus in April 1989 and Constance Gadell-Newton, Green Party candidate for Ohio governor.
People held various signs from “Black Lives Matter” to “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” while call and response chants of, “Show me what Miami looks like,” and, “This is what Miami looks like,” rang through the crowd.
“We’re gonna start the school year off with a rally/demonstration to the whole Student Body that we will not tolerate white supremacy and hatred on our campus or within our community,” stated the event’s Facebook page. “We’re rallying in support of the Charlottesville counter-protestors, especially those who sacrifice their safety and lives to stop White supremacists/Neo Nazis/KKK etc.”
At 9:20 p.m., the group made their way down Spring St. toward Patterson Ave. Officers on bicycles followed the group and directed traffic as the peaceful crowd made their way around campus.
Officers initially tried to keep the demonstrators off the streets. However, rows of protesters linked arms and stretched across High Street while chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”
Near the end of the march, a lone Trump supporter weaved through the crowd chanting “Trump 2020!” but no one seemed to pay him much attention.
Just after 10 p.m., the group rallied around the Sundial again. With fists held high, the group came together in song, and the NAACP’s anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” echoed through the crowd.
“To my fellow white folks,” Clarke said to the crowd, “the onus is on us. Your racist grandma, it is time to talk to her. Your racist parents, it is time to talk to them. Your racist boyfriend and racist girlfriend, it is time to talk to them.”
The overall atmosphere of the night was that of positivity and inclusivity.
“We need to send a message to our campus that this hate intolerance, this white supremacy that has been affecting our nation will not be allowed,” Guerra said. “I think the university saw us tonight. A lot of people are going to come out of this feeling empowered.”
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