In the wake of the 2016 election, the political divide in this country continues to widen. One clear illustration of this can be seen in the analysis of the attack on Ohio State University in late December. When a Muslim immigrant attacked students, many labeled him a terrorist. Now, though, students and faculty are making him a martyr, a symbol of police violence.
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Students have been gathering weekly at OSU to read out the names of people killed by police. Not all people, though–just people of color. And now the OSU attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, has been added to the list. OSU’s student paper, The Lantern, covered the event. Artan, after lambasting Americans for assuming all Muslims are terrorists, drove his car into a crowd of students on November 28, then jumped from his car and continued his terrorism of the campus and of OSU students with a large knife.
Then he was shot and killed by a police officer.
The OSU Coalition for Black Liberation considers Artan to be a victim. The Lantern spoke with OSU student Maryam Abidi. “We broadened the scope of what today was supposed to be, to talk about the aftermath of what happened on the 28th — to talk about what it meant for that attack to happen and also for Ohio State to be a focal point for a lot of right-wing pundits, Islamophobia and xenophobia.”
The reading of the list of names included their ages and the location of their deaths, then a moment of silence.
“In some cases, the deceased may have committed acts of violence against others before they were killed. Perhaps they were domestic abusers, perhaps they threatened or killed others. This possibility is not something to shy away from. The protest against police brutality extends to the innocent and the guilty alike, because we know that no matter the crime, justice and due process don’t come from a cop’s bullet,” Abidi said during the event.
“Due process doesn’t come from a cop’s bullet.”
“You can understand where an act of violence comes from without condoning that act of violence,” said associate professor of English Pranav Jani.
“Even compassion has been politicized, as we saw with the diversity officer who’s being attacked for daring to say let’s show compassion towards a fellow Buckeye who made tragic, tragic mistakes,” Jani said.
Professor Jani is referring to a post made after the attack by Stephanie Clemons Thompson, assistant director of residence in the Office of Student Life University Housing at OSU.
“Abudl Razak Ali Artan was a BUCKEYE, a member of our family. If you think it is ok to celebrate his death and/or share pictures of his dead body and I see it in my timeline, I will unfriend you. I pray you find compassion for his life, as troubled as it clearly was. Think of the pain he must have been in to feel that his actions were the only solution. We must come together in this time of tragedy. #BuckeyeStrong #BlackLivesMatter #SayHisName”
This post angered many. The #SayHisName movement is exceptionally controversial. Many of the people whose names they are asking others to say were killed in the act of committing violent crimes, just like Artan. Thompson’s post further angered those who felt like the police officer, Alan Horujko (also an OSU alum) was being unfairly judged.