Dear students and members of the community,
On October 27th, the Illinois Student Government, alongside 22 other organizations, planned a walk-along protest against the continued presence of the Chief, a racist and deeply offensive portrayal of Native Americans. We have finally debriefed with countless stakeholders to provide the most accurate representation of the truth.
The event was planned with the intention of a walk-along protest with explicit directions not to engage.The ISG prepared for the event by communicating with the University of Illinois Administration and the Police Department and assigning a police liaison for the protesters. Over the course of the event, some protesters spontaneously engaged in a blockade of the Chancellor’s car and the Honor the Chief Society. This was outside the scope of what ISG had planned for. Below are a few clarifications we would like to address:
- The Illinois Student Government does not condone violence. Period.
- The Chancellor made it abundantly clear to a number of student leaders that neither he nor his wife, felt unsafe by the actions of the protesters who spontaneously blockaded the car.
- It has been confirmed by numerous administrators that protesters did not need a permit to protest and therefore did not violate Illinois State law as has been erroneously claimed.
- There was absolutely no intention to follow or protest the Marching Illini. The timing was completely coincidental and we apologize for the disruption this led to.
- There was an incident where a protester and a police officer had physical contact. The officer used contact first, and the UIPD decided not to press charges against the protester.
- The Illinois Student Government did not violate anyone’s freedom of expression, as there were individuals who counter-protested. Furthermore, we welcomed everyone’s feedback during public comment last Wednesday night. Members of the public have always been invited to share their opinions during all ISG events, which was even seen at the Illini Democrats and Illini Republicans Debate, where the role of ISG in organizing protests was discussed.
- An unauthorized user had access to our social media and unilaterally posted a live stream of the event without permission. Since then, their access has been revoked.
- Not one member of the Illinois Student Government committed an act of violence.
We encourage anyone who feels that they were victims of violence during the protest to report it to the University of Illinois Police Department. Since the parade, we have debriefed with the UIPD and cooperated to the fullest extent.
We had a full room at our general assembly meeting last Wednesday, November 1st. The public commentary resulted in a critical conversation during the meeting, and helped us create a more comprehensive response. We encourage anyone with additional feedback to share it with the Student Government. The resolution “Reaffirming Commitment to New Mascot” has been sent to committee, and we anticipate that it will be back on the Senate floor next Wednesday. We invite you to attend our next meeting Wednesday, November 8th, at 7 p.m. in the Pine Lounge of the Illini Union, where we reserve an extendable 30 minute period for members of the public who wish to speak.
In Orange and Blue,
Student Body President
Student Body Vice President