Duke community members speak out against reported incident, University's response
 
 
By Steve Veres The Chronicle

Durham, NC (CSTV U-WIRE) -- More than 250 protesters attended two demonstrations Saturday night and Sunday morning in front of the residence where three members of the men's lacrosse team allegedly raped a local woman.

Organizers at the candlelight vigil and the "wake-up call" at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., said the demonstrations were acts of support for the black exotic dancer, who was allegedly raped, sodomized and strangled by three white members of the team.

Both protests-which attracted Duke faculty, students and employees, as well as concerned citizens and neighbors-moved to 1103 Urban St., a second house rented by members of the lacrosse team.

Residents never emerged from either of the houses during Saturday's or Sunday's demonstration.

"The students need to realize they live in a community, and people are going to talk back if they do something, or potentially do something, that is disrespectful to women," said Faulkner Fox, a visiting instructor in the English department and one of the organizers of the candlelight vigil.

Vigil participants lined the sidewalks, holding signs that read "Real men don't protect rapists," chanting "shame" in front of one of the lacrosse team's houses and singing, "This Little Light of Mine."

During the vigil, the Buchanan Boulevard house was seemingly empty, with lights off and shades drawn.

Participants then moved to the Urban Street residence. Several said that within minutes of their arrival, lights were shut off. They added that they saw figures move behind the drawn blinds.

Some of the vigil participants said the only adequate response to the alleged assault was to expel every student at the party. Others called for Duke to start the eviction process for the three lacrosse captains that live at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.

Freshman Jamie Bell said at the vigil she was appalled by the alleged actions. "This is an example of how some in the Duke community do not respect Durham," she said. "They think they are above the law."
 

 

At Sunday morning's demonstration, protesters pounded pots and pans in front of the lacrosse team's residences, as well as Provost Peter Lange's house on Markham Avenue.

The demonstration was intended to be both a "wake-up call" to raise awareness about sexual assault and a sign of support for the alleged victim.

Protesters, who ranged in age from infants to the elderly, banged on trash bins, water jugs and empty beer cans. One protester used a sled and a half-full champagne bottle.

"There is a sense that Duke students need to be protected from Durham, but rapes are happening off East Campus at the hands of Duke students," said Manju Rajendran, an organizer of the event. "We are here to break the silence around sexual assault and violence."

Signs read "You can't rape and run" and "It's Sunday morning, time to confess." The protesters left the signs on the front steps of the Buchanan Boulevard residence.

The crowd yelled, "Where are their parents?" and called for the lacrosse team's head coach Mike Pressler to be fired. Some wanted the University to force the group to testify.

The protesters then moved to Lange's residence. After about 10 minutes of loud demonstration, the provost came outside wearing a Duke hat and T-shirt.

Lange answered questions about the alleged incident and the University's reaction. He was often interrupted by people who disagreed with his statements, which included those about the honor code and of the University's decision to await the results of the police investigation before making any official judicial actions.

"We obviously have a difference of opinion," Lange said. "No large institution behaves in the way the community always wants it to."

The protest ended at the Urban Street residence about two and a half hours after it began.

(C) 2006 The Chronicle via CSTV U-WIRE


 
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