Students at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York are requesting the removal of a Thomas Jefferson sculpture due to his alleged gruesome behavior towards Blacks.
An online petition launched on Change.Org by Black Lives Matter activist and college student Ja’Loni Owens has received over 500 signatures so far after posting it a week ago.
Owens warned people that the petition text discusses “slavery, rape, eugenics, anti-black racism” and the statue should “not displayed on a college campus, especially not in front of a hub of student life.”
The college student posted on Facebook and addressed “white allies” specifically about the Friday (Mar 30.) protest, “Jefferson Has Gotta Go!”
“Please understand that this is a protest against white supremacy and that you as white people – even though you’re allies – benefit from white supremacy!… Your obligation is to fight that! Come prepared to step up if racial slurs or otherwise offensive things are said to organizers of color or poc attending. If you’re able, come prepared to hold posters and like….PROTEST,” Owens wrote.
Owens also warned white students, “Do not come and take selfies for your Instagram feed or SO HELP ME GOD.”
Words of advice was also provided to non-black people of color. “Y’all are POC, but not everyone’s roots run through enslavement! Pls be respectful! Don’t derail! There is room for all of us!!! POC solidarity, pls!”
The university has approved the protest and released a statement Wednesday, “Hofstra supports our students’ right to engage in peaceful demonstrations about issues that matter to them. We look forward to continuing a civil exchange of ideas and perspectives on the subject.”
Organizers also pointed out that “Jefferson’s values aided in the construction of institutionalized racism and justified the subjugation of black people in the United States… Jefferson has been embraced as an icon by white supremacist and neo-nazi organizations,” according to the petition.
Campus organizations such as Campus Feminist Collective, Collegiate Women of Color, Democrats of Hofstra University, Hofstra History Club, Hofstra NAACP Chapter, Peace Action Matters, Queer & Trans People of Color Coalition and more are co-sponsoring the protest.
A counter petition has since been launched on Tuesday with only 50 supporters.