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OU SGA criticizes Capitol rioters, note 'stark contrast' from racial justice protests

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Newly elected OU Student Government Association President Tavana Farzaneh (left) and Vice President Alex Gray (right).

OU’s Student Government Association decried the actions of pro-Trump rioters Wednesday, deeming their “attempt to halt the peaceful transfer of power” destructive and an expression of “complete disdain” for democracy.

In a Friday afternoon statement, the association conveyed their “anger and disbelief” toward the storming of the capital, noting the “stark contrast to protests that occurred this past summer” connected to racial justice movements. 

“While this summer’s protests were predominantly peaceful and on behalf of a cause for racial justice, Wednesday’s events were violent and rooted in beliefs that have been proven false time and time again,” the statement read. “Equivalencies drawn between the two are false and must not be treated with merit.” 

The Black Lives Matter Global Network described the riots as a coup, tweeting that it was “one more example of hypocrisy in our country’s law enforcement response to protest”. Discussions comparing police responses continue, highlighting disparities in the treatment of protestors. 

Law enforcement officials charged 40 defendants with unlawful entry of public property and is continuing to review evidence for an additional charge of curfew violation. By the time additional law enforcement arrived to clear the Capitol using flashbangs, percussion grenades and tear gas — after the building had been occupied for several hours and an officer suffered critical injuries — arrests numbered “several dozen,” according to the Washington Post article. 

Law enforcement officials also arrested the individual who sat with his feet on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk in her U.S. Capitol office on federal charges of entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry and theft of public property, according to the NBC News article. 

OU’s Black community participated in protests this summer, marching for the death of George Floyd and joining Black Lives Matter demonstrators in OKC. The march remained peaceful. 

The May 31 demonstration elicited a police response as officers attempted to clear the intersection. Thirteen people were arrested before 10 p.m. and protestors marching from Northwest 23rd Street and Classen Boulevard were met with flash grenades, rubber bullets, beanbags and teargas from midnight to 3 a.m.

According to the statement, the rioters’ rhetoric directly impacts the OU community as it “was used in an attempt to disrupt our electoral process.” It called on students to work together to improve democracy and emphasized that hatred has no place at the University. 

“We want to reassure all students, particularly students of marginalized communities, that we will call out movements of hatred, bigotry, and corruption,” the statement read. “The Student Government Association was founded to advocate on behalf of students, therefore, we encourage our University and our peers to consistently stand against acts of injustice.” 

As students, faculty and staff alike process this event, the statement emphasized that campus mental health resources are available. 

Goddard Health Services is offering phone and Zoom sessions with counselors by appointment, which can be scheduled at (405) 325-2911. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

SGA president Tavana Farzaneh also provided her  email, sgapres@ou.edu, for questions, comments or concerns regarding Wednesday’s events. 

“It is essential that we hear from our peers on how to best serve the student body,” the statement read. 

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