U of R Students Walk Out And Protest in Honor of Ryan Gainer 

University of Redlands students gathered on Thursday at Hunsaker plaza to hold a peaceful demonstration in protest against the killing of Ryan Gainer, a Black teenager on the autism spectrum in California, by a deputy sheriff. The case has sparked outrage nationally and raised questions about persistent racial discrimination, police brutality, and transparency.

Students were invited to walk out of class at 10 a.m. and “encourage others to join and make noise,” according to the poster of the protest. The group would then head towards the university’s Administration building before marching to Redlands City Hall. 

The poster for the protest.

Before the walk began, students Monse Gonzalez and Koby Stanley delivered two short speeches, educating students on their protesting rights and how to stay safe. Poster-making materials were also supplied.

From left to right: Karin Vandenburgh, Monse Gonzales ‘25, Kayla Edmonds ‘24, Juleia Smith ‘26, and Marcelle Edenlord ‘26.

Marcelle Edenlord ‘26 is one of the organizers of this event. 

“This campus is too quiet, we need to be more outspoken about justice issues that impact the community,” Edenlord shared. “I think a lot of students have opinions but they don’t get the opportunity to express them, so I think it’s important to have a student-centered opportunity to share our voices. The community should know that our voices are part of the vote ballot, we matter, and the policing and legislation policies should reflect that.”

Edenlord also expressed a need for the local community to see students actively involved in making a change. 

“They still haven’t released the full unedited videos and the names of the officers. I feel like if we can do anything to help that get moved along then we should,” Harley Dunow ‘25 commented when asked why she joined the walk out. “Use your voice when you can.”

Students gather at Hunsaker plaza before the demonstration begins.

Byran Whitehead ‘25 shared this sentiment. As President of Black Student Union, Vice President of the multicultural organization Wadada Wa Rangi Wengi, and a Black man with autistic brothers, Whitehead said he is “incredibly disappointed” about the lack of response from the national administration, from the county of San Bernardino, and from the university. 

At the time of the protest, there was not yet a university-wide statement released regarding Ryan Gainer. A key action point in the students’ walk-out is for the university administration to speak up on this issue.

At 6 p.m. the same day, University President Krista Newkirk sent out an email to the university community, addressing the students’ walk out earlier.

“I write this letter in support of our students’ First Amendment right to peacefully protest, and to acknowledge their frustration, anger, and fears,” Newkirk wrote in the email. “We hail from different backgrounds, interests, and perspectives, and it is our compassion and empathy for one another, and our desire to listen and learn from each other, that constitutes our strength as a University community.”

In the letter, Newkirk also reminded students of campus resources, such as the Counseling Center, the  Academic Success and Accessibility Department, the Community Service Learning, and a series of upcoming guest speaker events revolving around various social justice topics. 

With this walk out, Whitehead said he would like to see a level of activism similar to the Black Lives Matter movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd in 2020. 

“There was a lot of talk around what happened in 2020 but there was no action,” Whitehead said. “I want to see the same level of awareness, but with an action that’s equivalent to that kind of awareness.”

This is a developing story. The Redlands Bulldog will update the story as more information arises.

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Quynh Nguyen is a senior and double majoring in Economics and International Relations. She has written for the Redlands Bulldog since 2019 and she believes in the importance of journalism for a dynamic community like the U of R. In her free time, Quynh enjoys reading and playing Wordle.

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