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OU BERT, Student Government Association head march urging Gov. Kevin Stitt to grant Julius Jones clemency

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March for Julius Jones

Students during the March for Julius Jones on Nov. 8.

Two OU student organizations led a march of roughly 60 demonstrators down the South Oval to the Conoco Leadership Courtyard Monday afternoon, where they encouraged participants to write letters urging Gov. Kevin Stitt to reverse former OU student Julius Jones’ death sentence.

The march, planned by the OU Student Government Association and the Black Emergency Response Team, began at Dale Hale. BERT Director D’India Brown helped teach participants chants and addressed the crowd on the importance of student activism. 

Jones was convicted at 19 for the murder of insurance executive Paul Howell, and has since maintained innocence for over 20 years, saying he wasn’t present for the crime and didn’t learn Howell was killed until the day after. According to Brown, Jones’ case represents an injustice that anyone could have faced.

“It's important for us to make the connection to Julius’ case that it could have easily been justice for ... your classmate that you have during humanities. It could be justice for ... your basketball teammate. It could be anyone literally,” Brown told The Daily. “Once we understand that and understand the severity of the situation that this man's life is on the line, I think we can find the drive we're looking for to act more intentionally (and) more urgently.” 

During the march, Brown led the students in chants including “I’m not free until Julius is free” and “Justice for Julius” as participants walked to Evans Hall. 

Once the marchers arrived at Evans Hall, Brandon Kirkpatrick, a member of Justice for Julius, encouraged the crowd to call Stitt’s office and petition for Jones’ freedom. 

“We have 10 days — 10 days before the state takes (the) life of an innocent man,” Kirkpatrick said in his speech. “It's going to take every one of us, no matter what your age, is to be able to support this fight and to bring Julius home — not just off of death row, but home where he belongs, where he was stolen from his family 22 years ago, unjustly.” 

On Nov. 1, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones. It is now Stitt’s decision to approve or deny clemency. 

SGA Vice President Alex Gray told The Daily the goal of the march was to attract Stitt’s attention because Jones’ life is in his hands. 

“We felt it was so important because these are the last 10 days of this man's life, possibly, to do something,” Gray said. “The power of students and collective student voices is really, really impactful. We know that OU students show up and we know OU students are super involved, so that's why we wanted to do it. (It’s been) successful, and I'm really thankful for that.” 

At the end of the march, Gray and SGA President Tavana Farzaneh provided students in the Conoco Leadership courtyard with contact information to Stitt’s office so they could write, email or call to petition Stitt to grant Jones clemency.

“I think one of the best ways to make change is pressure,” Farzaneh told The Daily. “Right now it is completely up to Governor Stitt if Julius Jones is granted clemency or not, so the bare minimum that we can do is reach out and write a message. If we have every single person here write a message to (the) Governor — I don't know how many (people are) here, but that's however many people more than there were before.” 

news reporter

Taylor Jones is a journalism sophomore and news reporter at The Daily.

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