Circling around the arches of Sullivan Hall with a banner reading “No New Stadium,” a protest assembled of approximately 80 students and community members outside the Board of Trustees meeting yesterday. This protest was meant to oppose the Board’s vote on an architect for a possible off-campus stadium.
Nearly two dozen Temple police officers met the protesters gathered on Polett Walk.
The protest was led by students, community members and 15 Now activists in the collaborative organization, “Stadium Stompers.” The group has been meeting bi-weekly in the Church of the Advocate to discuss ways of preventing the implementation of the proposed stadium plans. Six members of the Stadium Stompers were allowed into Sullivan Hall to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“We’re at an important junction,” said Rev. Renee McKenzie of the Church of the Advocate during the protest. “When we first started talking about having these community and student meetings, I had a few people from the community who said, ‘You know, the battle is already over. ‘Temple has already won the game.’ I think [protests] have come here to make a real clear, declarative statement that ain’t so.”
Protesters began gathering outside of Sullivan Hall around 3 p.m. and stayed until the meeting ended nearly two hours later. With a unanimous vote approving the stadium, the meeting concluded with the go-ahead for a $1 million budget and a search for an architect to spearhead the project.
The amount of protesters fluctuated, with the largest amount of protesters reaching approximately 100 people came as classes let out at 3:50.
During the protests, calls to the Board of Trustees for a sexual misconduct facility and wages of $15 for student workers were applauded. Students for Justice in Palestine also attended and spoke during the rally.
“If the conversation is to continue and proposal [for the stadium] is to move forward, we want workers in the stadium to make $15 [an hour],” Stadium Stomper leader and junior therapeutic recreation major Tiara Mitchell told the Temple News.
But before reaching that point, Mitchell said the next steps of the Stadium Stompers was “to continue organizing and advocating against [the stadium].”
Chants of “Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” were hurled at Temple police officers nearing the end of the protest.
Asa Khalif, 1999 business administration alumnus told a line of police officers blocking the entrance to Sullivan Hall to “step aside” and let community members into the Board of Trustees meeting. Chants ensued for about 2 minutes yelling “Let them in” by the crowd.
“The community is obviously trying to say something and it just feels like we’re not listening to what their needs are,” Junior nursing major and protest attendee Nicole Barth said. “If this were to happen in my neighborhood which is middle-class and white, they would not be building a stadium. And [organizers] would listen to them and not build it.”
“I don’t know a lot about the money and gentrification but I do know that people don’t want the stadium and everyone should try and listen [to the community],” Barth said.
Anthony Monteiro, who lives on 12th Street near Wallace Street and is a former Temple professor, said during the rally that “civil disobedience” will occur if the Board of Trustees continue with the building of the stadium.
“I wish they would stop playing monopoly with people’s livelihoods,” said Sandy Ray, a life-long resident of North Philadelphia who currently resides on 13th street near Master. “People live here. And that’s how we would like to keep it.”
McKenzie said community members were ready to counter Temple administration and declare “victory” against their efforts to silence the community.
“The community is standing firm on this truth: that we do not want a stadium built,” McKenzie said.
Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gill_mcgoldrick.
Video by Linh Than, edited by Harrison Brink.