Hundreds of protestors gathered on-campus for the “Justice for Us” march

Andy Cole

STATESBORO — Georgia Southern’s Statesboro campus saw hundreds of people for the first time since mid-March for Sunday’s “Justice for Us” march.

Organized by GS senior Kerrigan Natera, the bigger-than-expected crowd peacefully protested the recent death of George Floyd.

“We’re tired and we’re scared, we’re sick of it,” said Natera. “At this point, we just need to be heard.”

{{tncms-inline account=”The George-Anne” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From <a href="https://twitter.com/imandycole?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@imandycole</a>: More protestors have arrived and are currently creating posters. At 1:30 p.m., protestors will march towards the Rotunda. <a href="https://t.co/yWbcJ8xWGt">pic.twitter.com/yWbcJ8xWGt</a></p>— The George-Anne (@TheGeorgeAnne) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267140559057104896?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 31, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267140559057104896″ type=”twitter”}}

One of the notable attendees was TaJuan Wilson, Ed.D, associate vice president for inclusive excellence. 

“We support our students, we support our learning community, said Wilson. “I’m here to stand in solidarity with our students on behalf of the administration here at GS and I’m proud to be here.”

GS President, Kyle Marrero, was not in attendance. It is unclear if any other university officials were at the protest.

When asked for a statement about Sunday’s protests, GS officials pointed to an email sent today to the GS campus community by Wilson’s office and the office of multicultural affairs.

The full email can be found below.

University Police (UPD) officers were also present at Sunday’s rally, however, according to UPD Chief Laura McCullough, they were there for the right reasons.

“Each and every one of my officers at UPD is just as appalled as everyone that’s here today,” said McCullough. “That’s not the way we’re trained to do things, that’s not the way we handle things here.”

“We’re not here to watch over [the protestors], we’re here to stand with them and support them in what they’re doing,” McCullough added.

{{tncms-inline account=”The George-Anne” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From <a href="https://twitter.com/imandycole?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@imandycole</a>: Here’s a sampling of some of the posters protestors will be carrying at today’s “Justice for Us” march. In a few minutes, protestors are scheduled to march to the rotunda. <a href="https://t.co/sPf0bBvRlu">pic.twitter.com/sPf0bBvRlu</a></p>— The George-Anne (@TheGeorgeAnne) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267144797871054848?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 31, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267144797871054848″ type=”twitter”}}

Jalyn Johnson, a GS business management major, marched to, as he put it, fight systematic oppressions that African-Americans have been facing.

“It’s a lot going on right now, the community is really, really heavy,” said Johnson. “We need representation, so that’s what I’m out here to do.”

Adrienne Cohen, an associate professor at GS’ sociology and anthropology department, was in attendance with her husband and young granddaughter. 

“I just want my students to know that I’m in solidarity with them,” said Cohen. “I think they need to see faculty here today to know that we support them.”

{{tncms-inline account=”The George-Anne” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From <a href="https://twitter.com/imandycole?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@imandycole</a>: Organizer <a href="https://twitter.com/lilkmula?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@lilkmula</a> is speaking to the bigger-than-expected crowd. Protestors are now moving toward the Rotunda. <a href="https://t.co/WkHf6EVHSw">pic.twitter.com/WkHf6EVHSw</a></p>— The George-Anne (@TheGeorgeAnne) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267149930847748097?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 31, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267149930847748097″ type=”twitter”}}

After preparations were made, protestors began marching towards the rotunda near Russell Union.

{{tncms-inline account=”The George-Anne” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From <a href="https://twitter.com/imandycole?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@imandycole</a>: Protestors have begun chanting “Black lives matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “No justice, no peace.” <a href="https://t.co/H9coJT5MJ1">pic.twitter.com/H9coJT5MJ1</a></p>— The George-Anne (@TheGeorgeAnne) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267150703513997313?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 31, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267150703513997313″ type=”twitter”}}

While marching, protestors chanted “Black Lives Matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “No justice, no peace.” Other, more explicit, chants were also used.

When protestors arrived at the rotunda, they observed a 20-second moment of silence followed by numerous speakers. 

{{tncms-inline account=”The George-Anne” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From <a href="https://twitter.com/imandycole?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@imandycole</a>: Speakers have now taken the stage in the center of the Rotunda. <a href="https://t.co/cfXBVDRPE4">pic.twitter.com/cfXBVDRPE4</a></p>— The George-Anne (@TheGeorgeAnne) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267154645929152514?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 31, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267154645929152514″ type=”twitter”}}

According to Natera, some speakers were planned, others were protestors who wanted to speak. 

Protestors were on campus for just over two hours. The George-Anne confirmed with UPD that no arrests or citations were made during or after the protest.

{{tncms-inline account=”The George-Anne” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From <a href="https://twitter.com/imandycole?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@imandycole</a>: The “Justice for Us” march has ended and protestors are making their way off campus. Organizer <a href="https://twitter.com/lilkmula?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@lilkmula</a> encouraged those interested to protest later tonight at the Statesboro City Hall. <a href="https://t.co/gwy7Qc6My7">pic.twitter.com/gwy7Qc6My7</a></p>— The George-Anne (@TheGeorgeAnne) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267165211175391234?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 31, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/TheGeorgeAnne/status/1267165211175391234″ type=”twitter”}}

Natera was pleased with the outcome of today’s protest.

“It’s always good to see people that’re fighting with us that don’t look like us,” said Natera. “It takes a village. I’m glad Statesboro showed up.”

Andy Cole, Managing Editor for News Coverage, [email protected]