Yesterday, the Augustana Democrats helped stage a Black Lives Matter demonstration with over 50 participants in the Viking Days parade.
— S. Dakotans For BLM (@SoDak4BLM) October 15, 2016
The Augie BLM demonstrators also occupied a big chunk of the student section at the afternoon football game. Augie Dem Spencer O’Hara reports that the group was met with remarkable positivity all along the parade route. However, O’Hara also reports that members of the Augustana College Republicans chanted “Build a wall” and “Lock her up” from their parade float.
O’Hara details some of the racist reaction in this public Facebook post:
I must admit that I am absolutely disgusted by the behavior of a few students. You know who you are, and you should feel truly ashamed of yourselves. Demonstrators did absolutely nothing to provoke you. By your own cause, you decided to yell “All lives matter” in the faces of black students as they quietly walked pass you. You yelled “build a wall” and “U-S-A” at Hispanic /Latinx students who did nothing to provoke you, as if anti-racism or being brown is somehow anti-American. One of your members said “Want to hear a racist joke?” to a black student several times while she was building her float. Some of you trivialized the killing of black people with “dinosaur lives matter.” And one of you made monkey noises and gestures at black students during the football game. Aside from the fact that most of you were publicly intoxicated in front of children and families, your chants made everyone, including members of the Sioux Falls community, very uncomfortable. This is truly repugnant and disappointing. Augustana, as a liberal arts institution, tells us to have empathy and take on the suffering of our neighbors. Your behavior is not Augustana, and it violates every one of our core values [Spencer O’Hara, Facebook post, 2016.10.16].
Racism and xenophobia are not Augustana. Nor are they America.
But what are going to do about it? O’Hara repeats our President’s advice:
If you are outraged, the best way you can express your anger is at the ballot box. And I intend to use my voice to ensure that no politician who preys on others, especially my friends, ever gets elected to public office. Together, we can show everyone that love will always trump hate. So thank you, Augustana, and remember: Don’t boo. Vote [O’Hara, 2016.10.16].
We’re probably not going to convert John Thune and Kristi Noem in the next 22 days from their stubborn embrace of the utter ugliness that their Presidential nominee inspired among the Viking Days parade shouters. But we can make sure our friends and fellow believers in liberty and justice for all will join us at the polls and cast more votes than the ugly side will. Go vote, and bring ten friends.