Late Saturday night, the University of Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians announced via twitter that the schools black football players are going on strike from all activities until a change is made in university leadership. The strike comes after a Missouri graduate student, Jonathan Butler, announced he was going on a hunger strike until university president Tim Wolfe vacated his position.

Many African- American students are upset with what has been described as systemic racism on campus. It started in September when Payton Head, the head of the Missouri Students Association, was called racial slurs by people in a truck driving by him. Students protested when it took nearly a week for the chancellor to address the incident. In October, a student yelled the N-word at members of the Legion of Black Collegians in a campus plaza while they were rehearsing for a play. Students protested Wolfe’s car at the homecoming parade on October 10, where Butler alleges that drunk bystanders approached the protesters, pushed them around and yelled obscenities at them. He also alleges that Wolfe allowed his driver to rev his engine, with the car moving and bumping some of the protesters, and had police called who threatened to arrest them, even though they had not engaged in violence.

Wolfe apologized for his inaction during the parade and issued this statement only recently:

“I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached my car. I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue. My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment. Nonetheless, had I gotten out of the car to acknowledge the students and talk with them perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

“I am asking us to move forward in addressing the racism that exists at our university — and it does exist. Together we must rise to the challenge of combatting racism, injustice, and intolerance.”

The latest incident occurred later in the month, when someone smeared a swastika with their own feces on a bathroom wall in a new residence hall. The university downplayed the event, and more administrator backlash ensued, mostly directed at Wolfe. He met with Butler and student groups on Friday to discuss the university’s handling of racial harassment cases.

In the tweet announcing the strike:

“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere. We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!”

Missouri issued its own statement Saturday:

“The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so.”

According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, 42 of the 64 players on Missouri’s current depth chart are African-American. Several took to social media on Saturday night to address the protest, with one, cornerback John Gibson, saying: “(The decision) has nothing to do with our coaches. Our coaches are 100% behind us. Including the white ones.”

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