University Of Mississippi Launches Investigation After Students Taunt Black Woman With Racist Monkey Noises During Protest

Officials at the University of Mississippi have opened a student conduct investigation after videos of pro-Palestinian protesters surrounded by counterprotesters have circulated online, including one being widely criticized as racist. 

A group of at least 30 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered last Thursday to voice their opposition to the U.S.’ support of Israel during the country’s ongoing war against Hamas. The protest is part of a growing number of demonstrations on university campuses around the country.

In videos of the demonstration, many noted that the pro-Palestinian demonstrators were a multiracial group surrounded by primarily white counterprotesters who were mocking them, NBC Reports.

The event reportedly turned hostile, and in one confrontation, a Black female graduate student standing on a barricade protested and took video of two young men yelling in her direction as they approached. In one widely shared video, it appears that a man is “jumping up and down as if he is impersonating a monkey to the woman.”

Other members of the group yelled “Lizzo” and “Lock her up” at the woman, who was guided away by police.

According to The Daily Mississippian, the university’s Black Student Union released a statement in solidarity with the pro-Palestinian group, which it described as “nonviolent demonstrators who were advocating for Palestine.”

“The students were exercising their right under the First Amendment, while the counter-protesters were present with malicious intent as well as a prominent lack of knowledge on the situation at hand,” the statement posted to Instagram said.

The student who directed the noises at the Black grad student has reportedly been kicked out of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity following the circulation of the video online.

“Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters is aware of the video regarding the student protest at the University of Mississippi,” the organization wrote in a statement on Sunday. “The racist actions in the video were those of an individual and are antithetical to the values of Phi Delta Theta and the Mississippi Alpha chapter.”

“The responsible individual was removed from membership on Friday, May 3,” the statement continued.

Jaylin Smith, 24, told CNN she was the woman in the video. “One thing that will never break me is people taunting me or making monkey noises at me,” Smith, a graduate student at Ole Miss, told CNN.

 University chancellor Glenn Boyce wrote to students and staff on Friday, noting, “While student privacy laws prohibit us from commenting on any specific student, we have opened one student conduct investigation,” adding, “We are working to determine whether more cases are warranted.”

“To be clear, people who say horrible things to people because of who they are will not find shelter or comfort on this campus,” Boyce said.

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