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OSU Student Beaten by Police

An incident of police brutality near the Ohio State University campus is helping to galvanize anti-racist activists.
 
 
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Photo Credit: aceshot1 | Shutterstock.com

 

On October 22nd, the Ohio State University (OSU) community was outraged by the news that Joseph Hines, an African American student, had been viciously assaulted by Columbus police.

As images and a video circulated around the web, we received a second shock: This incident of police brutality had occurred almost two months before--but there was not a word about it, either among students or the local media. http://www.alternet.org/node/add/story

But you can't find a word on the website about the fact that Hines was the victim of police brutality. Or what appears equally obvious to many on campus: that Hines was yet another victim of racism.

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The brutal attack by police on Joseph Hines is the latest and most gruesome event in a virtual epidemic of racially charged incidents at OSU over the last few months.

On April 4, the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center was the target of racist vandalism when the words "Long Live Zimmerman" were spray-painted on the wall. The slogan referred to George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida on February 26.

Significantly, the spray-painting occurred on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination--and on the night of a solidarity event called "Hoodies and Headscarves," in which Black, Muslim and other students gathered together to mourn the death of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi-American murdered in El Cajon, Calif., in an apparent hate crime on March 21.

As SocialistWorker.org reported in April, vandalism at the Hale Center provoked a mass response from the Ohio State community, especially from African American undergraduate and graduate students. Along with sympathetic faculty and staff, we formed a group called OSU Stand Your Ground (SYG)--turning inside out the name of the gun laws protecting Zimmerman and asserting that we will not back down from racist hate.

Hundreds of us marched to the Board of Trustees meeting to make demands--including calls for hate crime alerts, increased diversity among faculty and students, and an intensified plan for diversity in the curriculum--and we carried out an indefinite sit-in at the Student Union until the first demand was met.

As a result, the university formed OSU President Gordon Gee's No Place for Hate Task Force. The results of this Task Force have been predictably poor to date, producing little more than lukewarm recommendations while giving Gee PR about standing up to hate.

In May, racism and prejudice against Asian and Asian-American students at Ohio State came to light, as activists discovered anti-Asian twitter accounts linked to OSU with over 1,600 followers. In late August and September, the anti-racist group called OSU Haters created a tumblr page documenting these tweets--which have been ongoing, despite anti-racist organizing and coverage in the local media.

And just this past Wednesday, the campus newspaper The Lantern ran an ad from the group "Facts and Logic About the Middle East" that categorized Muslims and Iranians as "crazies" who have a "death wish for Israel. Apparently, racism at OSU is a daily thing.

While these incidents are both big and small, together they create a threatening environment for people of color at OSU. They tell us we are not wanted here.

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The anti-racist and anti-hate forces that OSU activists have mobilized over the past several months urgently need to come together again to demand answers from OSU President Gordan Gee, Mayor Michael Coleman and the Columbus police about the assault on Joseph Hines.

As campus activist Martez Smith told me, "People simply need to be aware that incidents like this are happening, and can happen, to any student on this campus. This wasn't a Columbus 'hoodlum,' this was a student at the Ohio State University."