Protesters took to the sidewalks of Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus Aug. 21 to call for the university to make a better effort to promote social justice on campus and cut ties from the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
The demonstration on campus comes toward the end of a summer full of marches and protests around the country in support of Black Lives Matter and against police brutality — sparked by the killing of a Black man by a white police officer in Minneapolis — The Phoenix reported in May.
The Aug. 21 protest was organized by Loyola sophomore Dorien Perry-Tillmon, who told The Phoenix he “[doesn’t] like going to a school that funds police.” The 19-year-old said he put together a flyer with details about the event that circulated on social media over the past several days.
It’s unclear exactly what relationship Loyola has with CPD and how much of university funds are allocated to police.
Perry-Tillmon, a film and digital media major from Boston, said he spent the summer protesting in his hometown and said he thinks Loyola has been “silent” on Black Lives Matter issues.
“If they’re not going to make any noise, we will,” Perry-Tillmon said to the crowd of protesters.
The crowd of about 200 started outside Cuneo Hall on the north side of campus and eventually moved south to cover the sidewalks on either side of Sheridan Road, which cuts right through campus. Eventually, the protesters took over the street to block traffic from both sides, which Perry-Tillmon said wasn’t planned.
Jane Nuefeld, Loyola’s vice president of student development, said in a statement to The Phoenix the university was aware of the protest and it supports “peaceful protests and students’ rights to express their opinions and perspectives.”
In response to students calling for the university to cut ties with CPD, Nuefeld wrote: “Under the State of Illinois’ Private College Campus Police Act, our Campus Safety officers and staff are legally required to work directly with the locally designated law authority. Therefore, calls to sever all ties are not practical. Campus Safety’s working relationship with the Chicago Police Department is also vital to ensuring the year-round protection of Loyola’s students, faculty, staff and visitors, especially with a majority of our students living off-campus in neighborhoods near the Lake Shore Campus.”
Sophomore Kennedy Mallory said she helped Perry-Tillmon organize and spread the word about the protest. Mallory, 19, said she spent the summer protesting and donating to bail funds and wants Loyola to put in more of an effort toward social justice.
A specific issue Mallory said she is passionate about is advocating for Loyola’s Black Cultural Center (BCC) — a student-run organization dedicated to promoting unity in the Black community and educating students on the history of African descendance — for which she is the publicity chair.
Mallory said the current meeting space for BCC is “as big as a closet,” and said the group is pushing for a bigger place to congregate.
Harriet Martin, a recent 2020 Loyola graduate, said she attended the protest to call for the university to reallocate funds from CPD into other programs.
Martin, who still lives in Chicago, said she was involved with BCC as a student and echoed the desire for a bigger meeting space, saying, “that’s their only safe space on campus.”
As people stood in the street, there were chants of “Black lives matter,” “No PD at LUC” and “There are no good cops in a racist system,” as cars honked.
LaShaunda Reese, a third-year PhD student at Loyola, addressed the crowd of protesters, reiterating the desire for the university to “cut ties with and renegotiate with the Chicago Police Department because we are students, not criminals.”
Reese, who is also co-founder and president of the Black Graduate Student Alliance, said into her megaphone, “Here I am, I am Black, and my life matters.”
This isn’t the first time students have asked Loyola to cut ties with CPD in recent months. In June, several students started petitions calling for the university to sever its connections with CPD, including its university partnership program that gives officers discounted tuition for certain Loyola programs. The Phoenix reported.
CPD couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.