Sit-in for Sanctuary


Society Editor | Korina Meister |

A protest started on Wednesday at 4 p.m. on the stairs of the court house on Court Street. Students were protesting Trump’s Muslim ban, and were making demands for Ohio University to take a sanctuary stance. Men and women stood with a megaphone, sharing their stories and opinions on the matter.

One woman told her story about how she can’t visit her family now because she may be unable to come back. She expressed how her nieces would never know her if this ban continued.

Students protesting inside Baker Center. Photo via Korina Meister.

Bobby Walker, an organizer of the protest and a student at OU, called the crowd to action, telling them to take the streets and head to Baker Center for a sit in. Traffic came to a halt as over 200 students traveled on Court Street chanting “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” and “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!” Students filed into Baker Center and sat down, waiting until administration would come to talk about the sanctuary stance. People took turns sharing their stories.

Another organizer, Jolana Ozara, emotionally told the protestors, “Getting my reading done, going to classes tomorrow doesn’t mean as much to me as standing up for what I believe in. It doesn’t mean shit if my fellow classmates don’t have rights.”

At 7:24, the chief of police told students to relocate or that they would get arrested. At this point, protestors linked arms and sat together in solidarity.

OU student Maddi Rotunda tearfully looked around at officers remarking, “It just makes me so upset to see these people in power using their power for this.”

At 7:45 the OUPD surrounded the students and began making arrests. Over 70 students were arrested and are being charged with criminal trespassing and a 4th degree misdemeanor.

In the middle of the circle, Walker thanked the protestors for coming and taking a stand for what they know is right. As protestors began being zip tied, they started to sing “Which side are you on friends, which side are you on? Justice for the Muslims, justice for us all,” continuing until every person was arrested.

Protestor Vivian Thomas outside the court house. Photo via Korina Meister.

As students were being arrested, others gathered outside watching and recording. The crowd angrily yelled at police officers for arresting during a peaceful protest and for not allowing student press inside. One student stood with police guarding the door chanting “blue lives matter,” which was met with others yelling “blue lives murder!” It became frenzied as students began to get angrier and yell at the cops asking how they thought their actions were right.

Lara Wehling, a student protester shared her feelings on the night, “I was terrified but never questioned the rightness of our cause. We stood for what we believed in and I’m proud that everyone was so peaceful. There was endless support for whole night.”

Organizers are already planning a protest for the students who got arrested last night. They are calling for people to show up to Athens municipal court next Monday and Thursday at 8:30 a.m. A national protest is also occurring on February 9 across different campuses. People are being asked to be outside the fourth floor of Baker at noon to protest the Muslim ban.

A page has also been created for donations to those who have been arrested during the protest at OU, which you can access here.

The student union and other protestors plan to continue fighting for OU to become a sanctuary for immigrant students.