Ball State student organizers share thoughts on June 4 peaceful protest

<p>Duncan Bellard, a Hartford City, Indiana, resident, holds a sign saying, "I can't breathe," May 30, 2020, near the junction of Walnut and Main streets in downtown Muncie. Bellard came from his hometown, located 30 minutes away, for the protest. <strong>Bailey Cline, DN</strong></p>

Duncan Bellard, a Hartford City, Indiana, resident, holds a sign saying, "I can't breathe," May 30, 2020, near the junction of Walnut and Main streets in downtown Muncie. Bellard came from his hometown, located 30 minutes away, for the protest. Bailey Cline, DN

A Facebook post by Ball State’s Office of Community of Community Engagement state Ball State will not be enforcing parking restrictions the day of the protest. It states attendees may park in any lot with an open space. The closest parking lots to Shafer Tower are the R2 parking lot on the south side of LaFollette Complex and the R5 parking lot outside the Miller College of Business building.

Anger, fear, sadness, disbelief — those are some of the emotions Ishmael El-Amin, Ball State Basketball’s junior guard, felt about the death of George Floyd and the protests surrounding it.

“My emotions are all over the place,” said El-Amin, who calls Minneapolis his hometown. “There’s so many different ones, I can’t really explain to you how I feel.”

He, along with his roommate Sultan “Mufasa” Benson, the now Ball State alumnus who had the police called on him for refusing to switch seats during class at the start of the spring semester, have organized a peaceful protest march 5 p.m. Thursday from Shafer Tower on Ball State’s campus to Muncie City Hall.

“We the people, we’re tired of the injustice and tired of how people of color have been treated and we’re demanding change,” El-Amin said were the reasons for organizing the march. “The biggest thing I want people to take away from the protest on Thursday is that we’re done not speaking out, we’re done being quiet.”

RELATED: Protest held in downtown Muncie following George Floyd's death

Seeing social injustice and police brutality around the world and in the United States, he said, was enough to motivate him to dig deeper than his emotions and find solutions to help others out.

“Rioting and looting and all of that … that’s not the solution,” El-Amin said. That’s not going to help us with finding the right solution and finding the answer. That will put us in a position as to where it will hurt us more than it will help.”

Junior guard Ishmael El-Amin looks to pass the ball Nov. 17, 2019, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind. El-Amin is one of the organizers of the peaceful protest march to be held June 4, 2020, from Shafer Tower to Muncie's City Hall. Jacob Musselman, DN

He said people need to remember that “this is bigger than us” — something he said he will continue explaining to people.

On Thursday, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns will be joining the Ball State community in the march. In a tweet sent out Monday, Mearns said he spoke with El-Amin and thanked him for allowing him to join the protesters.

RELATED: Ball State president speaks out about Floyd's death, protests

“It means a lot to know that he wants to be on the frontlines with us and marching with us and he's 110 percent behind our movement,” El-Amin said.

Benson said he has been impressed and grateful for the involvement from Ball State.

“They kind of came with a whole different mindset, and it’s appreciated, and I don’t think it’s going to go unnoticed,” Benson said.

Jalen Jones, another Ball State alumnus helping to organize the protest, said in an email people must be committed to the cause.

“Black lives matter. Black children matter. Black voices matter,” Jones said. “Our lives must matter in order for all lives to.”        

He said he was thrilled to discover Mearns will be joining the protest.

“This sends a positive message to the university, the Muncie community, our neighboring schools in the state of Indiana, and other presidents seeking to make a difference,” Jones said. “It is important for him to be present because many people like myself want to know that our leader is not only aware but is prepared to walk in solidarity with us.”

Benson said he wanted to thank alumni, staff, students, family, friends and others in the community for their support and donations. He said he knew the protest would get big, but it’s already bigger than he expected. He estimates around 300 people or more will attend the protest, but he said that number is not absolute.

Benson said he and his team are trying to keep the protests as peaceful as possible. They’ve already planned the walk, route and checkpoints, and the police are cooperating with them as well.

Sultan "Mufasa" Benson speaks to the crowd during a walkout Jan. 28, 2020, at University Green. Benson was in class when his marketing professor, Shaheen Borna, asked him to change seats. When Benson refused, Borna called the police. Jacob Musselman, DN

El-Amin said the biggest thing he wants people to take away from the protests is they should be tired of sitting back and not speaking up about things they believe in.

“We have to go out and we have to come together, bind together as one, and let our voices be heard and go out and vote and speak and find other ways to be involved and help advance the world we live in,” he said.

Another message he hopes the march sends out is “there is a right and a wrong way to protest.”

“This is the right way to have a peaceful protest and not to let things get out of hand … that we can meet up and have a peaceful protest and everything goes smooth and there’ll be no problems anywhere,” El-Amin said. “That will be the biggest thing.”

Benson said he thinks it’s important to speak out about racial injustice because not enough people are protesting. He said people are scared about what society will think.

“When you’ve been affected, and you see other people being affected and you decide to make the change, that’s when it brings about the best,” he said. “It’s 2020, and we’re still walking for justice.”

Contact Bailey Cline with comments at or on Twitter @BaileyCline. Contact Sarah Jensen with comments at or on Twitter @jensenesarah2. Contact Rohith Rao with comments at or on Twitter @RaoReports.


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