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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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The struggle is happening at a key moment for campus anti-racist activism on campus. This year, various groups inside and outside SYG--including the Asian American Association, South Asian Students Association, International Socialist Organization, ex-Occupy Ohio Staters, Asian American Studies, Committee for Justice in Palestine, Diversity and Identity Studies Collective Graduate Caucus, Ohio Students Association and United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)--have worked together to connect the dots between different instances of racism and hate.

In September, hundreds of students gathered at a town hall meeting and then at a panel discussion called "Racism and Violence After 9/11." We discussed the OSU anti-Asian tweets, the Oak Creek shootings at the Sikh Temple in August, the long legacy of violence against Asians in the U.S., Islamophobia in a time of war, and hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.

Weekly SYG speak-outs against racism, hate and discrimination have been organized to create "safe spaces" for students to come together on campus to talk through what they have experienced. A petition and protest against a new $1,000 fee for international students is also in the works.

Across the U.S., the killing of Trayvon Martin, rising Islamophoba, anti-Obama racism, the legalizing of racist profiling in Arizona and the deportations of immigrants, and ongoing instances of police brutality--all of this and more has set the stage for racist attacks in the U.S.

Locally, OSU continues to pursue policies that negatively impact people of color, in Columbus and globally. Plans are underway for OSU and its partner, the city of Columbus, to "develop" Near East Side--an action protested by many in the historically Black neighborhood. And OSU is ignoring student protests, spearheaded by United Students Against Sweatshops, and forging ahead with plans to sign a monopoly apparel deal with Silver Star Merchandising--which ESPN itself exposed as a sweatshop-using company.

OSU won't become "No Place for Hate" just because President Gee decrees it. We're going to have to make it no place for hate by defending the victims of racism, mobilizing all the forces we can, and transforming the curriculum, the student body and the faculty. We can start by mobilizing to bring pressure to bear on the university and the Columbus police and demanding justice for Joseph Hines.

Hines was beaten and then arrested by police on August 29, 2012, at 11:45 p.m., just off campus, across from the Student Union.

According to a video on "OSU police beating," a Facebook page started up by Hines' supporters, Hines was "pepper-sprayed, hog-tied, and beaten unconscious" by a gang of police officers, causing him nerve damage in his left hand (he is left-handed), a concussion, and various lacerations and cuts all over his body and face. A picture reportedly taken days after the beating shows Hines with his left eye swollen shut.

Although details remain sparse for legal reasons, one of the things that has outraged activists and supporters was that police didn't even feel they needed to give a reason or explanation for their actions.

Although a "Code 10-3" had been called--signaling that an officer was in trouble--Hines was, in fact, never charged with assaulting the cops. Instead, according to the Franklin Country Municipal Court website, he was charged for multiple counts of littering, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, and some counts related to alcohol possession.

Pranav Jani is an Assistant Professor of English at the Ohio State University.