By Jose Manuel Santoyo-Villa
I was one of the 39 students who participated in a peaceful demonstration at the SMU/TCU football game last Friday. Before the action, I was very clear that our motives were not to disrespect the ceremonies that were to follow the national anthem, since most of the students were not aware about them when the organizing began. In fact, the date of our demonstration only just so happened to fall on the same date of the ceremonies.
We were simply highlighting a major issue in this country that is affecting Mustangs on campus: the issue of police brutality in our country. According to The Guardian 1,146 people died at the hands of police in 2015. The number of people killed by police for 2016 was at an alarming 798 when this was written. Further, Lieutenant Thomas Glover, who is also the head of Dallas’ Black Police Association wrote a letter in which he referred to the growing number of people being killed by police as an “epidemic” that needs to be addressed.
Soraya Ronco, a fellow human rights advocate from Dallas, expressed her support for our protest and added that “As an athlete I was raised to take a knee when a fellow [soccer] player was injured or hurting. We wouldn’t rise until they stood up again and we could see that they were okay. It was a sign of camaraderie and respect for each other. Today our communities are hurting and have been. Student athletes nationwide feel the unity that waves in as they rightfully kneel together against oppression and the racial disparities in the criminal justice system.”
By kneeling, we honor the wounded and those who lost their lives. We stand with the families who are hurting. We have every right to kneel and protest. The five Dallas cops who were honored Friday night died protecting the right that we as Americans hold so dearly — the right to free speech. Let us honor their deaths by exercising the very right that they gave their lives to protect. We have never found solutions by staying silent.
Jose Manuel Santoyo-Villa is a SMU Hispanic-American Senator and Embrey Human Rights Program member
Edited by: Jessica Jancose SMU Women’s Interest Network (WIN) President