The Organization of Historically Oppressed Students marched through the Long Beach State campus on Tuesday, during the university’s Week of Welcome, to protest the killing of Tyre Nichols. Over one hundred students attended the demonstration.
Isaiah Sanchez, member of the Latinx resource center and OHOS, spoke during the demonstration. He accused the University Police Department chief of police John Brockie of false sincerity after Brockie sent a campus-wide email condemning the killing of Nichols.
“[University police] said they stand in solidarity with communities of color. For some of you ‘blue lives matter’ people who are naive enough to believe that, we people of color live in a totally different reality,” Sanchez said.
Nichols, 29, was pulled over by police in Memphis, Tennessee, on Jan. 7, for alleged reckless driving. The young driver ran away, but law enforcement apprehended him at a different location, according to a statement by Memphis police.
Body camera footage showed multiple officers holding Nichols down and beating him. He died three days later from “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to attorney Benjamin Crump in a written public statement.
When Brockie responded to the body camera footage showing Memphis police beating Tyre Nichols to death Friday evening, he said he was “horrified.”
“Those in uniform, who truly chose this profession in the interest of public service and protecting our communities, condemn this appalling behavior,” Brockie wrote in the university-wide email.
Ayoola Fadonougbo, Black Student Union president, led the demonstration as OHOS and other student cultural resource organizations marched through campus. He accused the police chief and university officials of “performative activism,” and said police are complicit in racial oppression.
“We have been beaten down and killed by the same system such as the police and our schools,” Fadonougbo said. “They have made dead promises about seeing us and even helping us through diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. We call that ‘performative activism.’”
Brockie said university police have worked with other groups on campus; however, they have yet to work directly with student organizations at the cultural resource center.
The police chief said the UPD had conversations with the leaders of the resource centers, but the Black Student Union and La Fuerza were “not ready to work with” law enforcement.
“I want to continue trying to work with those groups. I respect that they’re not in a place where they feel comfortable interacting with me directly,” Brockie said. “We have a lot more work to do before we’re able to meet in person.”
Brockie said he hoped if the police department is “intentional with their actions” and holds other officers accountable, they can build trust in the community.
“In the words of Malcolm X, ‘stick a knife in my back nine inches, and pull it out six inches, there is no daily progress,'” Fadonougbo said. “If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress is healing the wound the blow made.”
While the protest focused on the deaths of Tyre Nichols, Keenan Andersen, Oscar Sanchez and other lives taken by law enforcement, OHOS also addressed CSULB’s plans to tear down the cultural resource center in the summer of 2024.
“The College of Health and Human Services, want to displace us without relocating us to permanent spaces,” Fadonougbo said. “[The cultural resource organizations] are working together to ensure that we get permanent spacing.”
This article was edited on Feb. 7, 2022 for quality and clarity purposes.