Upset with the damage to their campus and its reputation by a vigil-turned-violent tonight, Georgia Tech students are in the midst of organizing a show of support for their police department and their school Tuesday.
And they also want to clear up a few facts.
Students on social media tonight are blaming the vigil violence on outsiders, although at least one of the three people arrested is a Tech student. Georgia Tech reports two of its officers suffered minor injuries in the melee involving fireworks and anti-police chants. One officer was transported to Grady Hospital. A police car was set on fire, reportedly by a flare tossed by a protester.
The clash between police and protesters led to this texted warning to students at 9:30 Monday night: GTENS ALERT: Stay inside due to violent protests on campus. Avoid Hemphill Avenue. Stay inside until told otherwise.
The vigil began as a peaceful remembrance of fourth-year computer engineering student Scout Schultz of Gwinnett who was shot and killed by campus police after a confrontation Saturday night in which the student ignored repeated orders to drop what police thought was a knife. Campus police were responding to a call about an armed man on campus that turned out to have been made by Scout.
According to the GBI: Schultz called 911 alerting them “of a suspicious person on campus.” In the call, Schultz describes the person as a white male, with long blonde hair, white T-shirt and blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip.
Once confronted by police in a parking lot on Tech’s west campus, Scout urged them to shoot and ignored their pleas to drop what police thought might be a knife. The student left three suicide notes, according to the GBI, which is being cited as evidence that Scout’s ultimate goal was to goad police into firing.
However, in a press conference earlier today, Scout’s parents questioned the use of lethal force to deal with a student having a mental breakdown and carrying what turned out to be a flip-open utility tool.
“Why did you have to shoot?” Bill Schultz asked at a news conference. “That’s the only question that matters right now. Why did you kill my son?”
On a GaTech student Facebook page and the Georgia Tech thread on Reddit, students are discussing what they can do.
While a cleanup of the vigil area was initially planned, it turned out the university had that under control. So, as of 1 a.m., students plan to set up tables across campus (exact locations to come in the morning) where campus members can write letters and posters to show support for the Georgia Tech Police Department and Scout’s family and friends. Students are encouraging all members of the Georgia Tech community to wear Georgia Tech apparel Tuesday.
Among the comments on social media:
- The protesters on campus right now are primarily NOT Tech students. I was there at the vigil and 20-30 outsiders with signs and drums showed up and started the riot. As they marched to the police station they set off fireworks. This was planned from the outside. Scout’s friends were advocating for changes to mental health policy on campus when the protesters showed up and started chanting about violence against police. Please let people & the media know that this is not us. This is not our community. We are still grieving.
- While it may be difficult to delineate ourselves from the violent protesters, we can do an effective job of coming together as a community of students after a horrific event like this to show that we are united and have nothing but the utmost respect for our campus and brave police officers!
- It sounds like there’s some real jerks making a mess. I’ll be out by 8:30am helping to clean up what I can. I hope everyone who disagrees that violence was appropriate tonight will join me.
- Thinking of getting some donuts or something for the Georgia Tech Police Department.
- If anyone is a photographer, it’d be great to publicize this–use the media to our advantage–spreading love and the true spirit of the Tech community.
- Anyone want to wear blue tomorrow in honor of the Georgia Tech Police Department and their actions to keep us safe tonight?
- I will be wearing GT apparel tomorrow in support of the school that I love so dearly, and I encourage you all to do the same. Outsiders who wish to threaten the safety of our students, our faculty, and our police officers have no place in our community.
- I’m off campus this semester. How can I help?
- By not believing for a second that the protests are Tech. We are Tech.