The Vermont Cynic

NoNames for Justice protest blocks off Main Street

Sophomore+BSU+President+Harmony+Edosomwan+sits+in+the+middle+of+Main+Street+during+the+protest.+
Sophomore BSU President Harmony Edosomwan sits in the middle of Main Street during the protest.

Sophomore BSU President Harmony Edosomwan sits in the middle of Main Street during the protest.

Oliver Pomazi

Oliver Pomazi

Sophomore BSU President Harmony Edosomwan sits in the middle of Main Street during the protest.

Joey Waldinger, Brandon Arcari

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Members of NoNames for Justice, a student activist group, said they were willing to be arrested during their protest on South Prospect and Main Street.  

At 7:45 p.m., protesters moved into the Waterman building. The protest began at 4:30 p.m. when a group of graduate students walked out of a final exam in a class co-taught by Annie Stevens, vice provost for student affairs.

The group gathered in 25 degree weather by the Allen House in support of UVM staff member John Mejia and their hunger strike, junior said junior Starr Cobb, a member of NoNames for Justice.

They will not leave until President Tom Sullivan comes to meet them, Cobb said. 

Protestors held Black Lives Matter signs and chanted “we’re standing in the street until Tom comes to meet.”

Stevens came out to meet with protesters, but did not directly address the crowd.

“I just want everyone to be safe,” Stevens said. She told protesters that she would let Sullivan know that the group was asking him to come out.

Senior Emily Grace Arriviello attended the protest and said she had been outside for an hour and a half.

I’m so fucking sick of it. [Sullivan] is harming students every day,” she said.

Cobb said people of color, grad students and members of NoNames came into the class to explain why Stevens needs to acknowledge the list of demands and support the group.

“She was very dismissive and and kept saying that people needed to choose between their education and what was right and so they said that, either you take this exam or we’re doing the protest,” they said.

SGA President Chris Petrillo came out to address the crowd at around 6 p.m.

“We will support you with resolutions and funding in any way we can,” he said. The crowd of protesters cheered in response.

Police blocked off Main Street and South Prospect for the protestors. Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said he hopes no arrests will be made.

The group will not leave until Sullivan comes out and addresses them, Cobb said.

7:22 p.m.

The University has told Burlington Police that Sullivan is indisposed this evening.

7:40 p.m.

Stevens addressed the crowd, which moved to the Waterman Building.

Sullivan is not available tonight, but “he absolutely wants to meet and will reach out to whoever you want him to reach out to,” she said.

Stevens told the protestors she wanted them to move inside and get warm.

“I’ve been here for two seconds and I’m already cold,” she told the crowd.

7:52 p.m.

NoNames for Justice will be taking over the Davis Center at 11 a.m. Feb. 22, said senior Angie Crespo, a member of the group.

The group plans to gather when tours of admitted students are walking through the building, Crespo said.

8:10 p.m.

Stevens said she is willing and open to working with students.

“I’m disappointed and saddened that people have called for our resignation,” she said. “I can speak only for myself that I will remain fully engaged in trying to move the campus forward around these issues.”

When asked about meeting Mejia’s hunger strike demands, Stevens said “I don’t know yet…got to figure that out.”

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NoNames for Justice protest blocks off Main Street