Students at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., gathered for a peaceful campus protest Monday afternoon to show support for two female students who said they were attacked and called racial slurs for refusing to stand for the national anthem, WDAM reports.
The two students reported that the incident happened Saturday night at the USM-vs.-Rice University football game.
According to one of the students (the two are roommates at USM), when they refused to stand for the national anthem, alcohol and soda were thrown on them, and they were called “unpatriotic [f–ks]” and “disrespectful bitches.”
Student Printz, USM’s school newspaper and website, reports that USM President Rodney Bennett said there will be a full investigation.
“The university works to create an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of each member of its community, as well as visitors and fans of its athletics events,” Bennett said. “I am deeply concerned whenever members of our community feel they are not treated with dignity that each individual deserves.”
The two women were flooded with support on social media:
— SophiaL (@SophiaLamar1) October 3, 2016
I don’t even know you @BarbiesMustDie but I’m heartbroken that you went through that. As an alum of USM, I am hurt. Stay strong. ✊????❤️
— [Twin B] (@_Royal_Tee_) October 3, 2016
What you did was not only heroic but fully engaged with the injustices that we as black people go through @BarbiesMustDie
— Aston R. Williams (@astonrwilliams) October 3, 2016
.@BarbiesMustDie sorry that happened to you. I’m not proud to be from Hattiesburg right now, but I will be there standing with you ladies
— YoungGifted&Black✊ (@CJLawrenceEsq) October 3, 2016
The Root has not been able to confirm at this time whether one of the victim’s Twitter accounts was suspended or if she deleted it because of the racist vitriol that usually follows these types of incidents. The Root has made the decision not to name the two women so that this report of their freedom of expression does not lead to them being attacked on social media.
There has been widespread speculation that the attackers were members of a fraternity on USM’s campus. University police are reviewing video of the incident, and according to the university, it is unknown at this time whether the aggressors are students at USM.
USM Dean of Students Eddie Holloway spoke with students who met Monday afternoon on the university’s campus to protest the violent racist response to the two women who were exercising their rights, WDAM reports.
“Once we determine the participants, we will act in accordance with code of student conduct of the University of Southern Mississippi,” Holloway said.
Since August, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem to protest state-sanctioned police violence against black people in the United States, more and more students around the country have joined his protest.
Some student-athletes have raised black power fists during the singing of the anthem. As previously reported by The Root, students at Castlemont High School in Oakland, Calif., lay on their backs with their hands up.
Kaepernick came to Oakland, CA. He kneeled on one knee, players laid on their back with hands up during the Anthem. pic.twitter.com/Cae4sTopac
— Kirk Morrison (@kirkmorrison) September 24, 2016
Kapernick initially sat for the anthem, but after a discussion with former Green Beret and long snapper Nate Boyer, he came to the decision that taking a knee allowed him to show respect for the U.S. military while staying true to his original message.
— Cameron Knight (@ckpj99) September 23, 2016
— Officially Live (@officiallylive) September 28, 2016
Monroe High School Varsity Team, Rochester NY earlier today – taking a knee for injustice in America during the Star Spangled Banner. pic.twitter.com/hRY0GkUP3B
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) October 2, 2016
We will update this story as more details become available.