May 2 Strike Committee: No, we didn’t make that crap

By May 2 Strike Committee, @May2Strike

Sam Beard, a former Daily Egyptian reporter, is a supporter of the May 2 Strike Committee and relayed this letter to the editor to the DE. 

We don’t have words strong enough to condemn the racist video that appeared on YouTube, signed by “ATO AZO.”

The video was a sick parody of a project made by a supporter of the May 2 strike, using the same clips but dubbing-in racist hate speech and a call for lynchings.


Students on the SIU campus know how prevalent racism is here, but this video brought the brutal history of American racism to the surface. The past does not pass. It bubbles beneath the tightly controlled surface of the present, and erupts whenever a crack in the everyday opens.

MORE: DE poll finds that most students believe racism exists

Those of us who have been working to promote the strike, for all our flaws, are committed to abolishing white supremacy and the structures that sustain it. Whoever made that video is our enemy, pure and simple.

The administration’s response to the video unfortunately confirms that charge we made against them in our Call to Action that they are more concerned with public relations than anti-racism.

We were shocked that rather than specifically focus on the racist video’s use of hate speech and call for lynchings, interim Chancellor Brad Colwell instead painted with a brush broad enough to implicate us as well. His announcement focused not on racism, but on anonymity and calls for disruption — as if there is an equivalence between writing anonymously to call for disruption against the many issues destroying higher education and those who would use anonymity to call for white supremacist violence.

COLWELL: Racist video has been removed, classes are scheduled for May 2 

The two uses of anonymity are distinct from one another, just as the two kinds of “disruption” are distinct.


Those without power — students, workers, poor people, whomever — don’t get anywhere without disrupting the status quo. Any attempt to create a better world will involve disruption of the normal, day-to-day life that maintains this one.

The racist video, however, doesn’t call for a disruption of normal: white supremacy is the lived experience of people of color on this campus and throughout this country. What the racist video calls for is a show of force to maintain the status quo. They want to beat our heads in to keep everything normal.

Justice demands disruption — it always has and it always will.

Colwell has deployed a cynical strategy. He’s attempted to blur the distinction between anti-racists demanding a better world and racists attempting to maintain this one, simply because they both are anonymous. On Monday it seemed SIU President Randy Dunn connected the May 2 Strike Committee to that crap while he was on-air on WSIU. He said the university would be looking into the connection because of the racist video’s similarities to the one done in support of a May 2 strike.

It doesn’t surprise us they would sink to such a dirty tactic in attempts to demonize a movement that calls their lavish salaries into question and demands they be no higher than that of the educators and staffers that actually make this university and our education possible.

When asked for his comment on that particular demand in a press conference Monday, Colwell laughed and tried to get one of his constituents to answer for him. He makes $295,000 a year.

Those in power maintain that power through fear. The fear that any deviation from the every day will lead to shear horror. The fear that no other world is possible, that it is either this or chaos.

The accusations put us in a predicament. Conspiracy accusations like that, by definition, can’t be refuted. There is always another cynical twist that could be imputed on us.

So what to we do? Is the strike still on? If we say “yes, May 2 is about challenging racism, and we’re not going to let these racists intimidate us!” we risk inviting people into a situation that could be dangerous. But if we say “no, this has gotten out of hand,” then those racists actually do win.

What would you do?

For us, we’ve decided its time to come clean. Not about our identities, which are only important to the cops. But about just what this May 2 Strike Committee monster is or was. So today we’ll be finishing up an anonymous interview, after which the Committee will no longer exist.

What happens on May 2 will be up to each of us and all of you, not a committee.

See you Monday at 10 a.m. at the fountain in front of Faner Hall.

For a world beyond racism, sexism, and classism,

With love, the May 2 Strike Committee

The May 2 Strike Committee can be reached at [email protected]

Sam Beard, media liaison and May 2 Strike Committee sympathizer can be reached at [email protected]