Group Defied Rally's Noble Purpose

Ethan Lindsey is a senior majoring in English. Respond to him at [email protected]

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A week ago, on Thursday May 20, I attended the Take Back the Night rally and march held on Sproul Plaza. The movement has recently been gaining strength here and there was, in my eyes, a remarkable turnout (in terms of sheer numbers) that evening.

The rally consisted of several empowering speeches, poetry readings and demonstrations - but by far the most important part of the rally was the open microphone time. Unfortunately, the hour time allotted to the open mic ended up being entirely controlled by a separatist clique of the ex-members of By Any Means Necessary.

These few individuals shifted the focus of the rally away from its real motivation and toward their own personal agenda. A member of the group said she was sexually assaulted and raped in March and she spoke during the open mic period. Her speech was very poignant and moving, and several people in the audience (myself included) no longer had dry eyes by the end. It's what followed that jeopardized and trivialized the strength behind her speech.

The perpetrator, her alleged rapist, showed up at the rally and was standing in the back, as the victim was ending her speech. The BAMNies "jumped" into action and started yelling and screaming at the audience to "get him" and even pointed him out, described his dress and encouraged violence. The individuals started the chant "Apologize or leave!" which was repeated a few times but quickly discarded by the audience.

To me this chant shows the total lack of understanding these few people had for the actual motive behind the rally - a simple apology would not have solved the problem, nor would it have even slightly removed any moral stain from the alleged rapist. An "apology" would have been entirely counter to the importance of Take Back the Night.

This melee shifted the attention off the microphone where several more victims shared their stories and accounts, each requiring a massive amount of personal courage to recount - but few audience members were watching the speakers as most heads were turned to watch the confrontation in back.

Personally, I was shocked and outraged by the lack of sensitivity the BAMN groupies showed Thursday night, and I was appalled by the total ignorance of the issues and goals raised by the student-driven Take Back the Night. These problems did not negate everything that happened at the rally, but they certainly did confuse and dismiss some very important issues.


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