UVM students stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter


Olivia Bowman

At the University of Vermont, blackout is no longer just a hashtag.


Over 100 students, staff and community members gathered under the new “Black Lives Matter” flag flown in front of the Davis Center for a moment of silence and many photographs at 4:30 p.m. Monday.


They were all gathered for “solidarity for those killed by gun violence,” coordinators and sophomores Akilah Ho-Young and Haydee Miranda said in a speech at the event.


“We are standing on justice because today UVM had made us proud by the raising of the flag. We are here to overcome oppression,” Ho-Young said.


SGA put the first Black Lives Matter flag up Thursday.


After the first flag was stolen, the second flag went up at 5 p.m. Sunday. It was taken down at night to prevent it from being stolen again or vandalized.


“You tear us down, we build ourselves up,” junior Jennifer Gil said in regards to the first flag being stolen. “It is amazing for the flag to continue to be so visible for the whole campus to see.”


SGA President Jason Maulucci was present for the movement.

“We have had a bunch of nasty comments coming through after the flags went up,” Maulucci said. “We are hoping the conversation will now change to discuss the reasons why the flag is here in the first place.”


Senior Brandice Bodie explained her feelings after the flag went up.


“It means a lot. I actually cried,” Bodie said. “To know your campus stands with students of color is a really big thing for me.”


Standing next to Bodie was senior Jenielle Morrison.


“I feel really proud and a sense of inclusion,” Morrison said. “Since elementary school I have been going to predominately white schools. I’ve always felt it was an ‘us and them’ situation, but now this makes me proud and happy to be at this university.”


There were also counter protesters present representing the “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” movements.


Sophomore Kyle Freundlich was standing with a Blue Lives Matter sign on the edge of the movement.


“I am here representing the police of this nation; not many people are here for Blue Lives Matter,” Freundlich said. “A police officer only has to do their job if you are doing something wrong, which many don’t realize.”


James Sexton, a resident of the Burlington area, was holding an American flag and an All Lives Matter sign.


“First, I feel it is 100 percent wrong that the American flag, state flag and Black Lives Matter flag are being flown on the same level,” Sexton said. “The American flag should always be highest.”


He said he was there supporting police as well.


“Most of the people standing over there under the flag do not have all of the information,” Sexton said. “The Black Lives Movement is a hate and terrorist organization, like the KKK.”


Ho-Young and Miranda also referenced All Lives Matter in their speech, saying “All lives matter, but black lives are not being treated as if they do and until then All Lives Matter is invalid.”


There were also many students from the UVM Medical School present.

“Institutionalized racism towards minorities is a huge medical issue as well,” first-year medical student Emily Vayda said. “We are here to represent the medical school and that show we are ready to see change.”


There were also multiple members of the UVM staff under the flag today.


Rev. Joe Cotner of the Cooperative Christian Ministry at UVM was present because he believes “there is a real problem with racism in this country,” he said.


“Theologically, we are all created in God’s image and I am here to show I care too,” Cotner said.


UVM police had a presence at the event as well. There were four visible officers stationed around the movement.


“We are here, like we are at many events to make sure that it is a safe place to meet and that everything goes well,” Deputy Chief Tim Bilodeau said. “There has been a lot of buzz; we are here to ensure safety.”


The people forming the movement were congregated outside for about an hour.