Wednesday afternoon, the free speech lawn at Cal State Long Beach became a sea of white signs, bearing the faces of the 43 Mexican students who mysteriously disappeared three years ago in Guerrero, Mexico.
La Raza Student Association has been organizing the annual Todos Somos Ayotzinapa demonstration since 2014 at CSULB in remembrance of the these students, who were taken into custody by police and were never seen by the public again. This sparked a wave of rallies and support efforts inside and outside of Mexico.
“It brings attention to what a lot of students who are activists have gone through,” said Jamilet Ochoa, La Raza membership officer.
The Ayotzinapa 43, as they were named by their school after their disappearance, went missing in Guerrero, Mexico on Sept. 26 2014. According to the BBC, The students’ bus was stopped by police after they had been protesting what they said were discriminatory hiring processes. To this day, the families of these students are still looking for answers to unanswered questions.
“It’s not spoken about enough,” Ochoa said. “Because it happened in the past, it’s seen as irrelevant.”
The event included a moment of silence while a group of volunteers stood and held signs with red hand prints and photos of the Ayotzinapa 43 to represent the mysterious disappearance.
La Raza member Asia Gonzalez spoke at the event, recalling death threats that were made to La Raza last week.
“We’re constantly criminalized in the CSU system for being activists,” Gonzalez said. “Instead of addressing the white supremacists, the students are being criminalized.”
This was in reference to the email that was sent out by CSULB President Jane Close Conoley which cited hate speech as free speech.
Sabrina Flores contributed to this story.