Dozens of members and allies of UC Irvine’s Black Student Union (BSU) gathered outside of the Student Center on Friday afternoon to protest against LAPD Chief Charles Beck, who was giving a keynote speech and participating in a conversation at the Race and Policing Forum being held in Pacific Ballroom D.
UCI’s Race and Policing Forum began at 8 a.m. last Friday and continued until 6:30 p.m. BSU protesters began demonstrating outside the Student Center around 11 a.m. in preparation for Chief Beck’s Q&A session with UCI law professor Henry Weinstein at noon. While the L.A. Black Lives Matter Charter silently protested inside the Pacific Ballroom, the UCI BSU led a louder peaceful protest outside.
The protesters marched around the Student Center chanting slogans including “Hey hey, ho
ho, these racist cops have got to go,” “LAPD you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide” and “Pigs in a blanket frying like bacon.” Most demonstrators held signs as they marched, printed with phrases such as “Wanting to live is not controversial,” “Black lives — they matter here” and “Fire Beck.”
Taylor Chanes, ASUCI Executive Vice President and fourth-year student, marched alongside the BSU as an ally.
“I’m out here because I’m a representative of students who are affected by systematic oppression,” said Chanes. “So it’s only right that with my position as a leader in ASUCI, that I come out to show my support when I also do this work at the state level as well.”
The group eventually stopped outside of Pacific Ballroom D when Beck’s talk was set to commence, in order to allow attendees inside the Student Center to faintly hear the demonstration.
Official representatives from the BSU declined to comment onsite to the New University, besides repeating “Black Lives Matter.”
Following the BSU for the majority of their protest were approximately a dozen members of College Republicans at UCI (CRUCI) and their allies, who staged a counterprotest to support the LAPD and Chief Beck, and to denounce the methods of of Black Lives Matter.
“College Republicans attended because we think the way Black Lives Matter acts towards police officers and everyone who disagrees with them is appalling and uncivil,” said Ariana Rowlands, President of CRUCI. “You cannot protest violence by inciting or committing violence and expect rational people to hear your voice.”
The peaceful protest formally ended around 2 p.m., an hour after Chief Beck’s talk.
Chanes argued that the protest was successful, and that its organization could serve as an example to activist communities at UCI.
“I think it would do everyone good to go through a ‘Know Your Rights’ workshop so that we know how to properly, peacefully protest, and it seems like the BSU did such a good job of that,” she said. “That needs to extend to multiple different ideological backgrounds on our campus as well.”