Protest spills into the streets as both sides dispute negotiation efforts
Crouse-Hinds protest spills into streets
Tensions flared at Crouse-Hinds Hall late Wednesday afternoon after a supposed negotiation session never materielized and #NotAgainSU protestors moved outside to block traffic along Crouse and Waverly avenues.
Syracuse Police officers monitored the intersection where several dozen protestors sat in a large circle for more than 90 minutes while chanting “SU puts the S in white supremacy,” “DPS who do you protect?” and “Who starved the students?! Kent!” referring to SU Chancellor Kent Syverud.
The disruptive action that brought cars and buses to a standstill came less than a day after #NotAgainSU released its official negotiation, asking SU senior administrators and Board of Trustee members to negotiate at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
During the afternoon, #NotAgainSU posted on Twitter saying that SU leaders never planned to participate in the negotiations.
Organizers asked students and faculty allies to come to Crouse-Hinds at 4 p.m. anyway to put pressure on administrators.
Protesters waited in the lobby of Crouse-Hinds until 4:15 p.m. When no administrators came to the lobby, they decided to march up the stairwell to the 6th floor where the doors to the Chancellor’s and other offices were found to be locked.
“Who starved the students?” #NotAgainSU protestors chanted in the stairwell. “Kent!”
The protesters remained in the stairwell for at about 15 minutes before some complained of overheating being tightly packed in shoulder-to-shoulder.
Faculty protesters advising student organizers made an attempt to gain access to the Administration’s office but staffers in the building said they did not have keys to the upper floors.
First Amendment lawyer Ron McGuire who spoke to protestors in the Crouse-Hinds lobby expressed his concerns about SU Administration’s handling of the protest that started more than nine days ago.
“I have never seen an administration weaponize food against student protestors,” McGuire said. “Power to you. Power to the people. And power to SU.”
Soon after 5 p.m. the protest transitioned outside where dozens of students flooded onto Waverly Avenue chanting, “Negotiate! We’re here in good faith! Negotiate!” They sat and stood in a circle in the middle of the intersection of South Crouse and Waverly avenues just north of Crouse-Hinds blocking traffic.
One student protester yelled, “You would rather suspend me over the Nazis roaming on your campus?”
The protesters arranged themselves so that people of color formed an inner circle surrounded by an outer circle of supporters who were mostly white. Those in the inner circle sat on the ground facing inward as those on the outer circle either held hands or locked arms facing outward.
Syracuse Police officers arrived at the protest at 5:20 p.m. and positioned patrol cars to reroute oncoming traffic away from the intersection. Some officers were taking photos, which crowd of protesters comprised of students, graduate students and faculty met with fierce opposition.
SU political science assistant professor Jenn Jackson began to question a police officer taking photos asking him why they were being taken. The officer replied that they were for an investigation as the protesters were breaking the law. Jackson then began to question the officers, asking for their names and badge numbers. The officers gave little to no answers and continued surveying the crowd.
Syracuse Police later released a statement stating that “blocking vehicular traffic is not only against the law, but it is unsafe and could limit the ability of the public to travel to essential medical services.”
Around 6:45 p.m. protesters filed back into Crouse-Hinds Hall, still chanting. They began to prepare to continue for some a 10th night camped out in the Crouse-Hinds lobby and encouraged anyone who joined the rally outside to join the sit-in as well.
At 7:15 p.m., Sarah Scalese, SU’s senior associate vice president for Communications, issued a statement saying there was no agreement between administration and organizers for a negotiation meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Scalese said SU Dean of Students Marianne Thomson informed protestors Tuesday that the Administration “will not proceed with a meeting until everyone agrees to terms that would ensure a substantive and respectful dialogue. As no terms were agreed to, no meeting was scheduled.”
Scalese said administrators aim to continue a dialogue with protesters and that a meeting was set up by Vice President for the Student Experience Rob Hradsky with the protesters and external facilitators from Interfaith Works of Central New York.
Administrators also announced that they reached out to the protesters for a meeting at 11 a.m. Thursday.