Protesters from Duke University and Durham, N.C., residents gathered Friday evening in front of Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity to protest an annual incarceration-themed party held by the fraternity and Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, reports the Duke Chronicle.
According to a Tumblr page put up by a group calling itself #DukeEnrage, the party, dubbed “Kappa Kops,” was held Feb. 17 and had students dress up as police officers and prisoners, complete with a cage/jail cell and a mug shot photo booth.
On Friday, about 25 protesters marched from a bus stop on the West Campus to the fraternities section, where they held a “teach-in,” read from a statement and discussed mass incarceration in the U.S. with bystanders.
“Our fellow classmates find it appropriate to so callously ‘party’ around a theme that has brought pain, suffering and violence into the lives of so many,” the statement read. “Their acts normalize a system that enacts brutality and violence against low-income communities and communities of color—right here, down the road, in Durham.”
The statement went on to talk about a callousness of throwing a party only weeks after a man named Matthew McCain became “the third inmate in a year to die while detained at the Durham County Jail,” which is less than a mile away from Duke’s campus.
It continued, “We know that these Greek students are protected by the same police state they are able to seamlessly dress up as for their entertainment. They can do this because their bodies are not vulnerable to these systems of power that devastate the lives of so many in Durham, across the state, and the country at large.”
Protesters reportedly did not speak to the press and were outnumbered by onlookers who asked questions and reportedly got into a contentious back-and-forth that the Chronicle said ended in shouting.
The group also called for an end to mass incarceration in the United States and an end to Greek life on campus.
“We call to abolish prisons and abolish Greek life because they both serve to uphold a social order founded on white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy and capitalist accumulation of power and wealth,” the protesters wrote.
The statement ended in the words of Fannie Lou Hamer: “Nobody is free until everybody is free.”