An “All Lives Matter” sign was posted Feb. 9 in front of the Leatherby Libraries next to the “Black Lives Matter” sign and Pan-African flag posted for Black History Month, said Chief of Public Safety Randy Burba.
The sign was removed by Facilities Management after Public Safety received two calls, Burba said.
“I was the one who posted, who put it up there,” said Alec Harrington, a sophomore political science major. “Because I want to see two different opinions being shared on campus. I would like to see the left’s idea of what they should have, and also the right, the conservative idea. I would like those two ideas to be shared freely without being shut down.”
Around noon, in response to the “All Lives Matter” sign, sophomore screen acting major Arianna Ngnomire sat outside the Leatherby Libraries holding a sign that said, “But will you say it to my face?” when she was approached by Harrington, Ngnomire said.
“It was very profound, because me sitting here, there were a lot of people looking at me, but then the person who actually put the flag up decided to sit next to me and have a conversation,” Ngnomire said.
A crowd of people started to gather around Ngnomire and Harrington, Ngonomire said.
The crowd eventually grew to about 50 people.
“I felt like I was a part of a community, because I was really only talking to him one-on-one for a few minutes and then other people came in and supported not only myself but also the Black Lives Matter movement, and it wasn’t only black people here either,” Ngnomire said. “Everyone really did come out as a community to support my community.”
During the conversation, a man ran up with a trash can and attempted to dump trash or hit Harrington with the trash can, said Nikki Thompson, a senior theatre performance major who came to meet Ngnomire.
“He did not succeed in doing that, because Arianna stepped in and put herself in between the young man who put up the ‘All Lives Matter’ sign and the young man who was attempting to throw trash on him out of anger,” Thompson said.
Ngnomire said that she prevented Harrington from getting hit because she didn’t want him to get beat up.
“I just want him to be educated,” Ngnomire said. “That way he can tell his family and his friends why black lives do matter. I don’t know if that will ever happen with him but maybe, I don’t know.”
The crowd dissipated around 1 p.m.
Burba said that the posting of the sign is a policy violation because Civic Engagement didn’t authorize it.
In an open letter to the Black Student Union Feb. 9, Dean of Students Jerry Price wrote that the sign was taken down because it was put up without authorization and covered the “Black Lives Matter” banner, which had been approved by the Leatherby Libraries for Black History Month.
“I also want to take this opportunity to clarify that – as an institution that highly values and encourages free expression – we removed the banner as a response to the students proceeding without authorization and in a matter inconsistent with university policy because it covered your
existing banner,” Price wrote. “We are not censoring their message; indeed, part of our discussion with the students involved will be to educate them on the proper avenues to communicate a message.”
Price told The Panther that there is sufficient reason to suspect that Student Code of Conduct policies may have been violated by posting the sign, and that he plans to meet with Harrington soon.
According to the Chapman website, postings that cover up or obscure a previous posting can be considered a violation of the Student Conduct Code.
“We encourage students communicating whatever message they want to get out there, but you can’t do so in such a way that diminishes somebody else’s message,” Price said.
Jackie Cohen contributed to the reporting of this story.