SIU Carbondale protests draw hundreds

What began as a protest of the budget impasse and student loan debt Monday transformed into an anti-racism march after an anonymous video threatened lynchings and other violence against the African American community at Southern Illinois University.

Earlier Monday morning, students and supporters came out in the hundreds. Many were out marching against student loan debt and the budget impasse’s effect on SIU. But more were out to take a stand against recent bouts of racism and violence, wearing shirts declaring "No Racism."

SIU student Tariq Collins says it’s hard to believe racist threats are a big problem.

"Yeah, this is something I never really thought we’d have to address, because we’re living in a new generation, in a new time," said Collins.

Marching from building to building, some handing out T-shirts, students say they needed to be a part of this.

"It’s infuriating to think that these same issues keep repeating themselves and its 2016," said Brandon Woudenberg. He’s one of the SIU a students who helped pass out "No Racism" shirts.

"I came here to lend support, and I’m just walking with the people who actually matter who are up there," said fellow student Diego Bolanos.

While students were protesting,  police kept a watchful eye to make sure none of the violence in the video actually happened. Administrators and SIU’s chancellor were nearby, listening carefully to what students had to say.

"We’re hearing about issues that give us great pause and concern, but it’s important that we hear it. That’s why we’re out listening today," said SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith.

"I think this is a good step, and I’m really glad it turned out to be peaceful instead of violent," Collins said. He says he hopes SIU can take this and make real changes, so they can begin feeling like a community once more.

SIU says it’s glad to see the protest held peacefully, with no violent attacks or incidents by or against students. The school says it will continue to hold forums on racism and  talk with students on how to improve the culture on campus.

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