The names of 43 missing students projected through a megaphone, their faces prominently printed in black and white on posters that sprawled across the University Bookstore Lawn.
The La Raza Student Association held a demonstration Wednesday for the four-year anniversary of the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College students in the town of Iguala, Mexico.
La Raza Student Association is a socio-political cultural organization on campus. It hold several demonstrations per year, and this is their fourth year rallying for the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students.
According to Asia Gonzalez, senior political science major and leader of the demonstration, hundreds of Mexican students were on their way to join a protest commemorating the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, a killing of Mexican students and civilians by police and military members.
On their way to Mexico City, police stopped their bus and opened fire on them.
The officers took 43 students into their police cars and were never seen again. Rumors surround their disappearance, and though most are presumed dead, people are still calling for an explanation from the Mexican government.
“We want the government to take accountability and be punished for what they’ve done,” Gonzalez said. “To this day, we’re still demanding [an] answer about what actually happened.”
Their photos were surrounded by red handprints and listed hashtags like #NosFaltan43 and #JusticiaParaAyotzinapa.
“Those students [were] protesting against a government and using their right of free speech,” Nathan Carbajal, member of Students for Quality Education, said. “As long as we keep their memory alive, their fight and soul will keep going.”
Gonzalez, with a megaphone in hand, called out each of the student’s names as their corresponding posters were placed on the ground.
“Demonstrating in particular, for events such as state violence against students or state violence against any sort of minority group, is important on campus because it brings light to [these] issues,” Jennifer Benitez, demonstrator and La Raza member, said. “We [as students] are subject to varying degrees, and in very nuanced ways, similar forms of oppression. That’s not just the state. That’s also capitalism. That’s also patriarchy.”
Although the main purpose of the demonstration was to call attention to the corrupt actions of the Mexican government, the underlying theme was systematic oppression of minorities.
“I think that all these different systems [of oppression] intertwine,” Benitez said. “Therefore we must see that our liberation as students, as ethnic minorities, as gender minorities, are tied inherently to [people] that are outside of these borders.”