Revolutionary Student Front marches to protest student arrests

Sarah Philips and Paul Cobler

The Revolutionary Student Front, a self-described anti-fascist organization, marched Thursday in protest of three of the group’s allies being arrested last month for attempting to remove a Celtic cross spray-painted on the Blanton Art Museum. 

A Celtic cross is a symbol sometimes associated with anti-Semitism and white power movements. On Oct. 26, three people were arrested around 3 p.m. on charges of graffiti for spreading white paint on a pillar at the museum. RSF, who associated themselves with the incident, said it was done to cover the cross that had been graffitied onto the pillar in February, which they said the University had failed to properly address. 

RSF members marched through campus for several hours around noon yesterday to protest the arrests. 

RSF said the University failed to take appropriate action concerning the Celtic cross, even though the Campus Climate Response Team said they knew about the incident immediately after it occurred. Compared to the almost immediate removal of Black Lives Matter graffiti from various campus statues in February, RSF said the University arrested three activists “without any supporting evidence” and then removed the white paint covering the Celtic cross.

UT spokesperson J.B. Bird said campus staff and Blanton facility services attempted to take the symbol down, but the impression remained on the pillar. 

“It seems to be quite a stretch to claim that for eight months the University did nothing about the graffiti,” Bird said the day after the activists were arrested. “Immediately, the day the graffiti was noticed, it was attempted to be removed.”

Biology freshman Geneva Pantoja said she sided with RSF’s side of the story, saying the people who painted over the Celtic cross shouldn’t have been arrested. 

“I feel like the University is in the wrong,” Pantoja said. “I feel like they should have taken care of the Celtic cross instead of ignoring it. From what they’re saying, it doesn’t seem like they had any real evidence to arrest them.”

Some of the chants shouted by the protesters included anti-police rhetoric. 

“They have the right to say whatever they want,” said Cindy Posey, associate director of communications for University Operations, when asked about the chants. 

Finance senior Irfan Merchant said he doesn’t usually get involved with political situations. He said he agreed that the University should have taken more actions against the Celtic cross but didn’t agree with some of the anti-police RSF chants during the protest. 

“Yes, there’s evidence that some of the police in history have taken some very wrongful action, but by protesting and saying such mean things and mean slander and showing such aggressive attitude, it’s not going to fix the problem, so it doesn’t matter,” Merchant said.

Bird said the Blanton Museum is contacting outside firms to remove the remnants of the Celtic cross.