Eastern Michigan’s football team is 3-1 for the first time in 21 years after a 27-24 win over Wyoming on Friday night, but the peaceful on-field protest that followed the game is much more significant. Protests have filled the week at the school after officials found racist graffiti on the campus on Tuesday.
The university discovered and removed graffiti displaying “KKK” in red, white and blue spray paint and the words “Leave N****rs” on the wall inside the courtyard of Julia Anne King Hall on Tuesday morning.
EMU President James Smith condemned the racial slur in a statement Tuesday and vowed to hold those behind the words responsible.
“The University strongly condemns such a racist and thoughtless act, which runs completely counter to the values and welcoming environment of our highly diverse Eastern Michigan University community,” he said.
Eastern Michigan students organized on-campus protests, which were marred by a vehicle plowing into protesters later that day. Friday night’s protests, however, remained peaceful.
Students started in the stands while the game was played, then later gathered near the playing surface in an area behind the end zone. As the game ended, protesters took to the field with linked arms chanting “no justice, no peace.” There were no incidents of violence in the protest between players or staff for either team.
The Detroit Free Press notes that a Wyoming player even joined the protest. And as Deadspin pointed out, CBS Sports chose not to turn their cameras away from the protest, unlike most occasions when uninvited guests appear on a football field. They even interviewed a leader of the protest live on air, a remarkable departure from the normal handling of such incidents as a “distraction” from the game of football.