LALACS Statement

LALACS Statement


We, faculty and affiliates of the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies Department, join others on campus to register our distress and outrage at the violent arrests on May 1st. We wish to draw your attention to how the disproportionate response to a peaceful protest, with a SWAT team, riot gear, guns, armored vehicle, and a police dog, has specific implications for Black, Latine, and/or undocumented students.

Existing as we do, within one hundred miles of the U.S./Canada border, the police presence and subsequent arrests put students who are not US citizens at additional risk of deportation. As the Movement for Black Lives has taught us, police presence does not equate to safety. The spectacular police response on the evening of May 1st had a damaging impact on students of color. We urge President Beilock to seriously consider the implications of who was arrested and how to better understand the disproportionate impact of these events on students of color and undocumented students.

We strongly disagree with the criminalizing rhetoric against student protest and the suggestion that peaceful gatherings and civil disobedience are violent. As the history of nonviolent protest teaches us, the peaceful breaking of rules is common and necessary in the pursuit of social justice. It is the student tradition of peaceful protest that yielded Ethnic Studies and it remains an integral part of university life, of global learning, and of a comprehensive civics education.

To that point: Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies would not exist–LALACS could not be possible–without student protest, sit-ins, and strikes. The 1968 student and faculty protests organized by the Third World Liberation Front, for instance, were pivotal in establishing Ethnic Studies as an academic discipline. The visionary students of 1968 exercised their freedom to protest and assembly because they understood that any and all transformative justice is rooted in our critical understanding of history, culture, society, and global humanity. Like those 1968 students, our courageous students on May 1st challenged us to connect our lives, classrooms, and values to the turbulence of the world. It is with this perspective that we stand with our students, who through their rightful acts are pushing our community forward.

Put plainly, we object to casting the May 1st protest as violent, as anti-semitic and reject any suggestion that the police were required to safeguard Jewish students or our campus as a whole. Claiming that peaceful protests like the one on May 1st are anti-semitic risks invalidating real incidents of anti-semitism.

We urge the administration to acknowledge the participation of Jewish students and faculty as well as multi-faith organizations in the protest and to be cautious about the language they use when referring to or claiming to represent the diverse communities of Jewish faculty, staff, and students on this campus.

Finally, we urge the administration to drop the charges against the arrested students and reinstate their access to the campus immediately.