Loyola students, led by student group Our Streets LUC, marched through the streets surrounding Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus (LSC) March 28 calling for the university to better support Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students.
The group first began protesting in August, but hasn’t been out in the streets since Nov. 7, The Phoenix reported. During the fall semester, the group held protests and events on and around Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.
Our Streets LUC published a list of demands in August, calling for Loyola to cut ties with the Chicago Police Department and better support BIPOC students, faculty and staff, among other things, The Phoenix reported.
About 50 students gathered outside Cuneo Hall around 3 p.m. with signs with phrases including, “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Asian Hate,” “7 Months, 0 Real Changes” and one with the names of victims of recent violent acts against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Shortly after, the group began moving north on North Sheridan Road, stopping traffic while shouting, “Whose streets? Our streets.”
The group of masked students walked approximately four and a half miles, mainly marching up and down North Sheridan Road. They also looped through sidestreets, Loyola Park and LSC. As students walked, cars honked and people cheered in support.
During the protest, one of the leaders of Our Streets LUC, Dorien Perry-Tillmon, said the group plans to host more protests and events as it gets warmer outside. He told protestors the group plans to keep “applying pressure” on Loyola until the university meets their demands.
He and other speakers at the protest emphasized the importance of supporting all BIPOC people, especially people of Asian descent in the wake of the Atlanta shootings.
The shootings occurred at two Atlanta massage parlors March 16, leaving eight people dead — six of whom were of Asian descent, and seven of whom were women, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are increasing in the wake of the pandemic. Over 3,000 incidents have been reported to the advocacy group, Stop AAPI Hate, since mid-March 2020, the AP reported.
“Nothing will get done if we’re not unified,” Perry-Tillmon said to the group of protestors over a megaphone. “We just gotta keep showing up because if we don’t, then nothing will happen.”
Perry-Tillmon declined to comment further.
Loyola junior Reena Nandyala said she attended the protest to show support to those impacted by the recent shootings in Atlanta.
“I have a lot of Asian friends and to see them and their families struggling with even stepping outside, being so afraid of everything that’s going on, it’s really sad to watch,” Nandyala, who’s 21 and majoring in public health, said.
Another protestor, junior Raining Woodruff brought a sign that read “I am not a virus, your fetish, or a model minority,” which she said was to target anti-Asian hate. She said came out to protest March 28 because she thinks organized protests and “coming together as a community to support each other” is important.
Woodruff said she attended some of the previous protests hosted by Our Streets in August and said “the energy was always amazing.”
“It was so nice during the pandemic to have that feeling of community with other Loyola students,” Woodruff, who’s 21 and majoring in global studies, said.
In addition to supporting the specific demands laid out by Our Streets online, Woodruff said she wants to see Loyola “working with students of color and uplifting their voices instead of silencing them.”
Nandyala said she wants to see Loyola do more to support BIPOC communities.
“They send out all these emails and yet I don’t see a lot of change actually occurring,” Nandyala said.
Junior Pooja Rai said she also attended the protest to show support for BIPOC students, especially students of Asian descent following the Atlanta shootings. She said walking through the streets with the group felt “empowering.”
“It’s nice to be surrounded by the Loyola community who actually cares and it’s liberating to see all the cars honking and all the people showing support,” Rai said. “It makes me feel happy to know there are people to go to for support.”