Thursday, October 22, 2020

Ole Miss Rebels Vote to Leave Practice; March to Square for Protest

*Updated to include statement from OPD, Coach Lane Kiffin and Players.

The Ole Miss Rebels football team voted to leave practice this morning to march at the Square in Oxford, gathering peacefully at the Confederate statue and City Hall. 

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The march was in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and police brutality.

On Friday afternoon, the team released a statement addressing the reasoning behind the protest.

“As the Ole Miss football family, we are committed to change. Police brutality and other injustices occurring across our nation have to end, and our team stands united to embrace our diversity and promote a culture of peace, equality and understanding. Regardless of our backgrounds, we all need to listen to each other and learn to respect and love our differences.”

Head Coach Lane Kiffin also attended the march and protest after meeting with his players on Thursday in support of the change.  Kiffin also released a separate statement after the march.

“I met with our leadership council last night and asked how they wanted to make their voices heard,” Kiffin said. “It was a good discussion, and this morning, the team decided to march in unity and use their platform to send a message. I’m proud of our players coming together for justice and change. We are going to continue to work together to improve the world around us for everyone.”

Ole Miss sophomore running back Snoop Conner told that the decision to protest was made Friday morning at practice. 

“It came from a leadership group,” Conner said. “We’ve got about 14 people in a leadership group, and we talked about it. We came in this morning to have a team meeting and we voted as a team to unite, and come march and speak up.” 

The football players and others chanted “No Peace, No Justice,” “Don’t shoot,” and “Black Lives Matter”, as they walked as a group around the Square. 

“It makes me feel good because we’re coming together as a team,” Conner said. “We got black and white coming together. We’re talking and having a voice, trying to make the world better, trying to make a change.” 

On Friday afternoon, the Oxford Police Department issued a statement about the protest.

“We have received many calls and questions in regard to the demonstration held by the University of Mississippi student-athletes this morning. This was not a permitted event and law enforcement was not made aware until the event started. As law enforcement officials, our priority is safety and security when demonstrations take place.

Due to our limited resources, manpower, and time limitations we did our best to keep everyone safe while meeting with university officials, coaches and players. Through these conversations, we were able to peacefully relocate everyone out of the street and route the demonstration back to campus. We are continuing to meet and discuss ways to adhering to the permitting process while allowing for peaceful demonstrations.”

Thursday, football players at Mississippi State University also left practice in protest of police brutality. 

Staff report. Photos by Victoria Hosey