Protesters claim college denied their right to free speech.
Correction: Mary Schlabig was incorrectly given the title director of student life, a position currently held by Richard Farias. Schlabig is student life’s administrative associate.
By Bleah B. Patterson
A small group of students staged a protest against racism in police departments this afternoon near campus. They protested in the wake of the shooting in Ferguson, Mo.
About six students gathered on San Pedro Avenue across from campus. They chanted: “Racist cops, you can’t hide. We’ll charge you with genocide!” saying this college and the police have been inhibiting their right to free speech.
Engineering sophomore Chastity Valerio joined her friends to protest outside of campus.
“We’ve tried starting a club,” she said of their efforts to form a club urging students to stand against racism in the police department. “Apparently on this campus we’re not allowed to speak freely. We can’t find an adviser to support us, and Student Life won’t let us show our posters.”
Mary Schlabig, director of Student Life, said she doesn’t recall any request by the group, nor did she recognize Valerio’s name.
She did, however, say anyone not a part of an approved club would have to submit a request to distribute material to President Robert Vela or they would be asked to leave.
Students are also required to present a signed petition to the president’s office before being allowed to protest.
Valerio and fellow student and activist Raphael DeLaGarza, environmental science sophomore, said they’re the censored and decided to take to the streets to get their word out after finding no support within their college community.
“We have more people in our group,” DeLaGarza said “(The six) who are here are the only people who could come out today. We’ll have more next time.”
DeLaGarza added that while they haven’t been able to start a formal club they do consider the Student Methodist Center a close ally.
“Earlier we tried handing out flyers. But some of the cops came and told us we couldn’t, that they were offensive,” he said, rolling his eyes.
Joe Pabon, deputy chief of the campus police department, echoed Schlabig saying “(this college) has a policy saying that if anyone wants to protest or hand out flyers they have to have them approved at most 24 hours ahead of time. If we saw someone on campus we’d ask them if they got it approved, and if not we’d send them to Student Life.”
Education sophomore Ricardo Henriquez led the crowed chanting, “Asian, Latin, black and white, to smash racism we must unite!”
The group later continued chanting a new version of their original mantra, “Killer cops you cannot hide. We charge you with genocide!”
Alex Martinez, a friend of the students, came out to show support, holding a large red sign with a similar statement covered in signatures of students supporting their cause.
The group handed out flyers giving history and background to nationally recognized controversial shootings, such as Trayvon Martin, shot in 2012; the shooting of Shantel Davis in 2009; and Amado Diallo in 1999.
Two additional participants were present but refused to provide their identities.