By Daniel Wu
Hundreds of students and community members marched across campus and Palo Alto on Sunday afternoon to protest anti-Black racism and police brutality, the largest of recent on-campus demonstrations that have taken place amid nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd.
Protestors wearing black clothing and facemasks began to gather at White Memorial Plaza at 2 p.m. Standing slightly distanced from each other, they swelled to fill the entire plaza. Before the march, speakers addressed the crowd through a megaphone and shared frustrations, experiences of racial profiling and calls for change.
“Following the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and countless others, as well as the rampant police terrorism exhibited at protests throughout the country, we felt the urgent need to take action to defund, divest from, and abolish the police as a fundamentally and irreformably racist and oppressive institution,” the event’s organizers wrote in a statement to The Daily. “We sought to begin close to home, recognizing Stanford’s complicity and role in enabling state-sanctioned violence against Black people.”
The event’s organizers made several criticisms of Stanford in their address to the crowd.
“Stanford has shown no repercussions, none, for hate speech and acts of racism on campus,” said one of the organizers, a graduate student in the School of Engineering who asked to remain anonymous due to concerns of personal safety, to the crowd. “Stanford continues to ignore, erase and suppress Black voices reporting racial violence on campus, with which I have personal experience. There is no anti-racism training for police, faculty, staff, or students … Black people on campus are disproportionately stopped and questioned by police.”
She also read out a long list of demands that was “formulated by a coalition of Black student organizations on campus,” which included disarming all Stanford police officers, not renewing Stanford’s police union contract, diverting funding from police to areas including sexual assault prevention, financial aid and support for workers, twice-annual de-escalation training for law enforcement on campus and explicit communication of Stanford Department of Public Safety’s policies on use of force and de-escalation techniques.
The organizer also called for departmentalization of African and African American Studies and more investment in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, echoing previous calls for these actions, and for University administration to establish a 60-minute weekly meeting between President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Persis Drell and “Black, Latinx and Native student organizations to meet each one of these demands.”
“Anything short of these demands is insufficient and complicit with the violence we are protesting today,” the organizer said.
The Daily has reached out to the University and Stanford’s public safety department for comment.
At around 4 p.m., the protestors began a march through campus toward Palo Alto, moving north from White Plaza along Lasuen Mall, across Jane Stanford Way and onto Palm Drive.
From there, the march proceeded onto University Avenue, spreading across all northbound lanes. A large police presence in downtown Palo Alto monitored the demonstration and redirected traffic — not only for the Stanford rally, but for additional groups of protesters that appeared to be marching in protest separately, several blocks ahead. Occasionally, passersby waved and honked in support.
When the march concluded at Palo Alto’s town hall, the group broke into cheers and applause — a contrast to the chorus of rallying cries that echoed across campus and Palo Alto along the way. The crowd was large enough that separate chants broke out across its length as they marched. Up front, above widespread shouts of “Black lives matter,” the organizers led several call-and-response chants.
“No justice,” they yelled, and the crowd replied: “No peace.”
“No racist — police.”
“Stanford — do better.”