Content warning: This article discusses anti-Black hate speech and systemic violence.
Georgetown University Protects Racists (GUPR) resumed its sit-in at Healy Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 8, after the university’s investigation of the racist hate crime perpetrated against LaHannah Giles (CAS ’23) came back inconclusive. Students gathered outside of President John DeGioia’s office in solidarity with Giles and in protest of the university’s continued failure to meet GUPR’s demands.
“Just like I was denied my justice ten months ago, I am once again being denied justice today,” Giles said as they spoke into a loudspeaker in their opening speech at the protest.
Giles announced during their speech that they would be stepping back from their leadership role to prioritize their well-being, and that other student activists would be taking the lead in the ongoing fight for justice.
“Rest, for me, is revolutionary in a society built on the backs of Black people,” Giles said. “I now pass the baton on to you all to continue this fight for me, as I recover from all the trauma and suffering I have experienced at this university.”
According to GUPR, the Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action (IDEAA) office released their report on Tuesday, stating that they did not have enough evidence to take action to expel the perpetrator—one of GUPR’s foremost demands.
“We as a community will not allow Georgetown to get away with covering up the hate crime,” Giles said. “We will not tolerate white supremacists yelling racist slurs and death threats to Black students.”
Sanchi Rohira (SFS ’24), an organizer for GUPR since the sit-ins began in the fall, said the investigation originally involved three suspects, two of whom were ruled out as the perpetrators, while the remaining suspect faced further investigation.
“The implication is that if anyone out of the three suspects, it is likely him, suspect number three,” Rohira said, expressing frustration that IDEAA concluded there was not enough indisputable evidence to take any action. “Again, this comes after LaHannah’s identification of him as the one who committed the hate crime. It comes after the five witnesses confirmed it was him. It comes after the security footage, the GOCard footage, everything.”
The university has repeatedly faced criticism for its handling of the investigation. GUPD previously claimed to have lost video footage of the suspects entering New South, attributing it to an unexplained power outage that erased their servers. Moreover, the university failed to produce the report by its initial deadline of Dec. 17 and missed two later deadlines, according to organizers. Tuesday, Feb. 7 was the fourth deadline GUPR had given the administration.
“All the way from April and May, losing the footage, to now, releasing the report saying it was inconclusive due to the lost footage—it all points to the fact that, from day one, this was a cover-up,” Rohira added. “From day one, Georgetown was really going out of their way to have things line up in a way that they could legally protect the student.”
The new GUPR leaders were unsurprised by the university’s conclusion and said they intended to continue protesting until their demands are met.
“Proactively, we thought that we should organize it again in case they didn’t meet this timeline,” Leah Krakowski (SOH ’23) said. “Or, in the case of what did happen yesterday, that they produced a report that was not substantial.”
As the renewed protests begin, GUPR’s goals remain the same. In the short term, they demand that the university revise the report and expel the student; in the long term, they demand the university take real, not performative, action to support Black students and address its racist past.
“Last semester, our target was if our demands weren’t met, that we would continue sit-ins, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Alex Brown (SFS ’25), another new organizer, said. “We feel it’s the only way to pressure the administration to take action.”
According to the organizers, the protesters have seen an outpouring of support from clubs and organizations on Georgetown’s campus and from the D.C. area.
“We’ve been reaching out and have been contacted by different student organizations, student affinity groups, just students from around campus, even from other schools, offering supplies, food, chairs,” Krakowski said. “So the support of the community has really been critical in this.”
At the end of the first day, the group walked through the hallways of Healy, shouting chants after an attendee noted that there were classes that had started at 5 p.m. and that the chants could prompt curiosity in those classes and raise awareness for the cause.
The protests will continue until Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the upcoming weeks, the protests will take place at the same time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, until the protesters’ demands are met, organizers said.
“We must come to see that justice delayed too long is justice denied,” Giles said, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. “I have done all I can and now I call on you to do all you can.”