Organizers of a counterprotest in response to the pro-Confederate rally planned for Saturday have moved their event from the Circle to the Jackson Avenue Center to ensure the safety of participants.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc announced the change at Wednesday’s public discussion about the upcoming rallies. Counterprotest organizer and senior marketing major Will Pipes said the university could not guarantee student safety if the protest was held in its original location.
“It was made very clear to me that (the administration) was willing to put measures in place to ensure our safety, but they couldn’t ensure 100 percent, total safety,” Pipes said.
The counterprotest was originally planned to be at the Circle on campus, near the pro-Confederate rally.
“While I, personally, would rather be there to offer up a voice in counterprotest, it was the proposed idea of safety and not wanting to put people in harm’s way that I think sold me on the idea,” Pipes said.
Pipes said he and university administrators opted for the change at around noon Wednesday. Dean of Students Melinda Sutton Noss, University of Mississippi General Counsel Erica McKinley and UPD Chief of Police Ray Hawkins were present in the meeting in which this decision was made, according to Pipes.
Sutton Noss said students ultimately made the decision to relocate the counterprotest.
“My hope is that the student organizers are able to accomplish their goals with the counterprotest and — most importantly— that students will be safe in an alternative location,” Sutton Noss said.