College Republicans claim inadequate response to Black Lives Matters vandalism.
That is the view of some black students at Dartmouth College, who last week tore down a display by the Dartmouth College Republicans honoring police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. The organization had received permission from the school to put up the display in conjunction with National Police Week, which runs through Saturday.
Black Lives Matter activists labeled the display on a bulletin board in Collis Atrium as “white supremacist,” took it down and then guarded the area so that it could not be reconstituted. Josh Kauderer, a College Republicans member who helped put up the display, said that the student center administrator told the group on Saturday to come back in an hour to put it back up.
“When we returned at 2:50, it was a complete reversal of policy … The administration back-stabbed us,” he said.
At that point, he said, club members were told that they would be violating school policy if they removed a new display erected by the Black Lives Matter group. The new display featured a photo of some College Republicans with Donald Trump and snide messages written over the picture. Kauderer said administrators told the group that, in order to avoid conflict, they should wait until after the student center closed at 2 a.m. to resurrect their memorial.
Kauderer said his group put up part of the original memorial at about 10 a.m. Sunday and left it up until 4:30 p.m., when the period for which it had reserved the bulletin board expired.
“Before that, the administration had yet to make their stance clear,” he said.
The school’s president, the college dean, the provost and vice provost sent an email to the campus Sunday morning calling the actions against the police memorial an “unacceptable violation of freedom of expression on our campus” and vowing to discipline any student involved in the actions.
Kauderer said that, to his knowledge, no one has been punished.
“Especially when it’s the left doing these things, they never try to find out who is responsible,” he said.
Kauderer said he also does not believe the college disciplined any of the Black Lives Matter activists who disrupted students studying at the school library last fall.
The Black Lives Matter students who took actions against the police memorial particularly objected to the use of the slogan “Blue Lives Matter” on the display. “There is a double standard allowing freedom of speech of some people on campus.”
“By co-opting a movement intended to protect the livelihood of black people, Blue Lives Matter and #AllLivesMatter facilitates the erasure of black lives,” representatives said in a statement. “This slogan denies that black bodies are subjected to disproportionate state violence. This has nothing to do with individual police officers.”
The statement added that the campus is “toxic” and that the movement had “reclaimed” the bulletin board.
“We occupy this space, in front of the bulletin board, to guarantee our presence at this institution,” the statement reads. “Reposting Blue Lives Matter reproduces this violent narrative against people of color, by silencing us. We will not be silenced.”
Kauderer said he does not understand why a memorial honoring fallen police and firefighters would prove controversial. He noted that the memorial honored all first responders killed in action, including many black officers.
“Police officers all over this country are looking for support in, really, a war against them,” he said, adding that an already difficult job has “been made even harder by the Black Lives Matter movement.”