The police killing of former CAU student Jamarion Robinson has galvanized students across the Atlanta University Center, especially at Clark-Atlanta University where he once attended. Robinson was killed by police on last month in what some are calling a police execution. Family and friends of Robinson stated that he had a love for CAU which he last attended in 2010 but had to withdraw from school to support his mother. Since his slaying, the student activist group #AUCShutItDown has been vocal in support of the family and drawing attention to the slaying of another Black man in the era of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Robinson had just one year left to finish his biology degree and he choose to attend Tuskegee University, but according to Harrison and other students he was still considered a part of the extended AUC family and CAU.
There have been student rallies that have taken place, most recently at the Woodruff Library that have caused concern among the student activists. During that rally, Da’Shaun Harrison, a junior at nearby Morehouse College and a leader within #AUCShutItDown, claimed of harassment by CAU public safety officers and staff of the library. According to Harrison, he and other students were threatened with being reported to the deans of their respective institutions and possible arrest for holding the unsanctioned rally. Also, in attendance at the Woodruff Library rally was noted social activist and attorney Mawuli Davis of the Davis-Bozeman Law Firm who issued the following statement to rolling out:
“CAU and all HBCUs should support student activists. Jamarion Robinson was a student-athlete and students have a right to respond. It will be a sad day when HBCUs like CAU do not support student activism. I was there when staff at the Woodruff Library and police confronted students and it is true that pictures were taken of students and threats were made to report them to their deans for standing up for something that matters. Not only were students forced onto the sidewalk but also media outlets that included WSB-TV, FOX-TV and others. One particular student is a graduate student in the school of political science at CAU and she was threatened with reprisal. I offered pro-bono services to this student and all others who have grievances and we will represent them. There are many professors at the different schools, including CAU that are willing to stand with students. The mother of Jamarion Robinson is planning to be in attendance at the vigil as well as other family and supporters. It was I who first told you about this planned event. I encourage you to report this story.”
Because the student led organization is not a charted group at the schools of the Atlanta University Center (AUC), they are in a unique position. Social activism on college campuses is often impromptu and geared by social media that attracts many students who feel compelled to express their collective emotive thought.
However, some students feel that CAU has not been as welcoming of student activism on campus. Officially Clark Atlanta University is private property and any activities on campus must have the approval of the administration. According to Mario Boone, Media Relations Manager for CAU:
“Anyone seeking to hold a protest or rally on the private property of CAU would have to seek approval through appropriate channels, according to the CAU Dept. of Public Safety. CAU students are familiar with this process as it has been standard procedure for many years.”
This Friday August 26, 2016, student activists plan to gather for a “Celebration of life: Memorial for Jamarion Robinson” to be held on campus in front of the CAU Art Gallery building. Members of the Robinson family have been confirmed to attend by the organizers of #AUCShutItDown and by attorney Mawuli Davis. It has now been confirmed that if this unsanctioned gathering takes place CAU will remove participants from its campus. According to an email statement from Boone:
“The “protest” scheduled for this Friday in front of the CAU Art Museum is not a sanctioned event. It’s unclear who is sponsoring the event since they have not contacted CAU for permission to gather on our campus. Participants who attempt to gather on private property will be ushered to the public space to hold such an event. Organizers are urged to follow proper procedure to obtain permission to hold events on the campus of CAU.”
In response to the CAU email statement Da’Shaun Harrison replied :
“We understand that CAU has a policy that says you must requisition a space three weeks in advance. That is three weeks that we didn’t have to wait to memorialize a former CAU student, that CAU chose to distance themselves from. Clark Atlanta University’s police and administration’s history with us has proven to be violent, thus leading us to believe that there would be no cooperation from them anyway. We recognize that this memorial is an act of resistance, but we expect that CAU will respect the family as they memorialize a loved one executed by the State less than a month ago.”