More than 120 Greenhill students on Wednesday marched in solidarity with anti-racism protesters in a campus demonstration.
The protest began with four students addressing the crowd outside the Marshall Family Performing Arts Center (MPAC) at 11 a.m. The speakers were rising senior Clarissa Smith and rising juniors Ari Appel and Lily McCardle—the event organizers—and rising junior Alondra Valdez.
“In light of the many gatherings around the world to speak up for justice, it is now our turn to take action,” Smith said.
After the students spoke, the protesters marched around campus and chanted slogans condemning racism. The marchers proceeded to the corner of Midway Road and Spring Valley Road where they held a moment of silence.
Head of School Lee Hark addressed the students to emphasize that Greenhill as an institution is committed to supporting the movement, protesters said.
The Greenhill action added campus voices to a national movement focused on addressing and fixing discrimination and biased policing faced by African Americans.
On May 25, George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed during an arrest in Minneapolis for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd’s arrest and subsequent death were recorded and posted to social media.
In the video, Officer Derek Chauvin is seen holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd appears to be in extreme pain and yells “I can’t breathe” before calling for his late mother and losing consciousness.
This is the latest in a series of high profile acts of police brutality against unarmed Black individuals. Since Floyd’s murder, protests have erupted across the nation and around the globe.
Although the Greenhill campus is still officially closed to students because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the protest organizers worked with senior administrators to arrange the demonstration. In addition to Hark, the students held discussions with Assistant Head of School Tom Perryman, departing Director of Equity and Inclusion Karen Bradberry, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer Kendra Grace and Assistant to the Head and Assistant Head of School Kasia Faber.
In a series of meetings, the students and administration representatives discussed potential problems that might arise and what measures needed to be put in place to ensure a safe and peaceful protest.
“We knew that in order to make sure that this protest remained peaceful between us and those outside of the Greenhill community, we needed the [Addison] police department on board,” Smith said.
Some protests across the nation have resulted in violent interactions between demonstrators and law enforcement as well as opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement. Smith, Appel and McCardle said they wanted to ensure Greenhill students’ safety and eliminate any potential for conflict.
“Ms. Grace contacted the Addison Police Department and they were in total support of the event,” Smith said. “Chief [Paul] Spencer and his group of police made themselves available to assist us in whatever our needs were.”
Overall, protestors said they felt that they made an impact on their community.
“[The protest] definitely showed the Addison community that Greenhill is a school that will stand up for Black lives and until all lives matter, the Greenhill community will not be able to rest,” said rising sophomore Ben Bautista, who participated in the demonstration.