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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Students rally in support of Jena six

A large group of students clad in black clothing rallied Thursday to protest the treatment of six black youths imprisoned for a schoolyard beating in Louisiana and instances of racial inequality on GW’s campus.

The event began in front of the Multicultural Student Services Center, where students from the Black Student Union and the GW chapter of the NAACP encouraged people to share their experiences with racism. About 100 people participated in the moving rally, which traveled to Kogan Plaza and then to Marvin Center.

The people participating in the event wore black clothing to show their solidarity, organizers said.

Other groups were having similar protests across the country, all spurred by the arraignment of six black students in Jena, La., for attempted murder. The high school students allegedly beat a white schoolmate after someone hung nooses from a tree at their school. Many say that the sentencing was unfair because the alleged perpetrators were the victims of a hate crime. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton both attended a protest in the Louisiana town.

“There is a serious disparity in our legal system right now which has resulted in these people being held unjustly,” said senior Charles Basden, president of the Black Student Union.

He added that GW black students don’t actively speak up in the face of injustice on the campus. “Don’t lose the passion you had here today,” Basden said.

The group also protested The Hatchet’s coverage of black issues on campus, citing the newspaper’s coverage of the GW F.E.E.D. initiative – a program led by Sen. OG Oyiborhoro (CCAS-U).

“I’m pissed off and I know that you guys are pissed off,” said Casey Wach, a freshman. “The problem is that (the Jena six) are black not white, and our legal system is still racist.”

Senior Carlo Arce said the Jena Six case was a product of racism in the justice system.

“It’s totally unjust on the part of the authorities,” Arce said. “Suppose it were six white people, how would the outcome have been different?”

Chanting from Kogan Plaza could be heard around the campus.

“What do we want? Justice.

When do we want it? Now,” yelled students, led by former Student Association president Lamar Thorpe.

“Even though we’re a small part of the school, we have a very loud voice,” said Aundrea Williford, vice president of the Black Student Union. “(Students, professors and administrators) need to know that this is an issue for us.”

She added that racism is apparent in daily life at GW.

“We want to spread that there’s racism still running rampant at GW,” said Williford, a senior. “It’s evident, even here at George Washington. We see it and we feel it.”

Whitney McGuire, the president of the GW NAACP, said racism can even be seen in ignorant comments made by professors.

“These types of things can’t continue to go unnoticed,” she said. “I challenge (GW administrators) to take a stand on these issues before it’s too late.”

The event ended in Marvin Center for a “Blatino” lunch, a weekly tradition for black and Latino students.

Following the event, about 20 people went to the SA office because they were disappointed student leaders did not attend the event, Basden said. He added that several groups, including the SA, are meeting to create a program in support of the “Jena Six.”

Junior Brand Kroeger, executive vice president of the SA, said he is trying to help coordinate a formal response to the controversy.

“We’re all working to come up with a collective voice on the Jena Six,” Kroeger said, adding that it could be an event or a senate resolution. “Whatever the students want it to be, then the SA will serve as a catalyst for that to happen.”

Elise Kigner contributed to this report.

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