The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 21st

UNC students hold demonstration against police brutality

A demonstrator, identified as Thomas, tells his experience being arrested during a Silent Sam demonstration at a demonstration against police actions on UNC-Chapel Hill's campus Thursday, Sept. 20 on the steps of South Building. Thomas says police officers ripped the straps of his leather backpack and choked him on the ground before putting him in Graham Memorial Hall.
Buy Photos A demonstrator, identified as Thomas, tells his experience being arrested during a Silent Sam demonstration at a demonstration against police actions on UNC-Chapel Hill's campus Thursday, Sept. 20 on the steps of South Building. Thomas says police officers ripped the straps of his leather backpack and choked him on the ground before putting him in Graham Memorial Hall.

UNC Students Against Police Brutality, a new found coalition on campus, held a rally announcing a list of demands for Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC administration in front of South Building on Thursday afternoon.

The coalition demanded Chancellor Folt and the UNC administration stop police brutality and excessive force in the wake of a series of protests following the removal of Silent Sam.

Graduate student Lindsay Ayling helped organize Thursday’s event to speak out against police brutality. She said during the past month, brutality included the use of Tasers, pepper spray and a bike wall.

The Daily Tar Heel has reported on the use of pepper foggers and a bicycle barricade.

But Ayling hopes the rally and demands will enact change.

“Since Silent Sam fell, police have been brutal toward students at every event that we've held, and it's important to say that that's unacceptable,” Ayling said.

Student speakers announced the coalitions’ five demands and dispersed paper copies of the list to attendees.

The demands called on Chancellor Folt to stop criminal proceedings for the 25 arrested protestors, police brutality and excessive force, inviting outside police agencies onto campus, coordinating white supremacists and targeting and spying on protesters. 

After listing demands, Ayling led attendees at the rally to the doors of South Building and chanted, “Open the door.”

Ayling said she was hopeful Chancellor Folt would make an appearance.

“I thought that for once she might actually stick around and listen to us or accept our demands," Ayling said. "But you can see that during the event they actually locked the doors to South building."

UNC media relations said the South Building doors were locked for safety reasons, and that the University supports the rights of students to express their views. Chancellor Folt received the demonstrator's list of demands today. 

Other speakers during the event shared personal stories of police brutality.

Thomas Bruefach spoke at the rally about being charged with resisting an officer and causing a public disturbance during a Silent Sam demonstration.

“It’s really hard for me to explain the pain I went through following the demonstrations,” Bruefach said before sharing a poem at the rally.

He also said taking action is a collective effort, and he was pleased with the event's turnout, “We needed a direction to go in instead of just constantly reacting and constantly getting beat up by police,” he said. “It was important for us to make demands and make a proactive movement.”

Buka Ibeziako, a board member of UNC Black Congress, also spoke about the historical context of police brutality on campus.

Ibeziako said it was important to highlight the connection between Black students' experience on campus and increased policing practices particularly regarding Silent Sam.

“I wanted to challenge myself and being present in these spaces and also just kind of bring to light the experience of being a Black student at this university,” Ibeziako said.

There was no active response from the UNC administration during the event.

Attendee Kristina Cove said it was disappointing that they were not let into the building.

The rally concluded with attendees and leaders holding hands and chanting together before dispersing.

@JessySnouwaert

university@dailytarheel.com

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