About 150 college students protested racist acts on college campuses Friday night, gathering in downtown Portland to symbolically stand with students at the University of Missouri.

The students, mostly from the University of Southern Maine and Bowdoin College, said their campuses also are the sites of racist acts and statements.

“I was called a terrorist,” said Hamdi Hassan, a USM student who helped lead Friday night’s demonstration, which included a march from Monument Square to Longfellow Square and back again. She also cited an incident in which students wore hazmat nursing suits for Halloween at a time when the Ebola virus was killing hundreds of people in Africa.

The incidents were reported, she said, but nothing was done in response.

The protest started out with about 75 people in windswept Monument Square and grew larger as the night went on. The numbers seemed to peak as the demonstrators headed back from Longfellow Square to Monument Square, at one point cheered on by concert-goers gathering in front of the State Theatre, across Congress Street from the march.

The marchers chanted “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace” as they headed down Congress Street. Portland police cars at one point blocked a side street in Congress Square to allow the marchers, who stayed on the sidewalk, to continue.


Portland police said the marchers didn’t have a permit, but there were no incidents and no arrests were made or citations issued.

Mohamed Nur, a Bowdoin student from Portland, said his campus has been the scene of some racially charged incidents, like a sports team that held a “gangsta rap” party. He also said there have been some racist remarks posted on Yik Yak, an online site where people can post anonymously to those who are nearby.

In Missouri, a man was arrested this week after using Yik Yak to threaten black students at the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus. Protesters at that college eventually forced the university system’s president and the campus chancellor to resign after what students charged were inadequate responses to racial incidents.

Nur said administrators at Bowdoin did respond to the incidents and are fostering a dialogue to try to bridge racial divides. Hassan said USM administrators have expressed sympathy after racist incidents have been reported there, but they don’t seem to follow up.

“It’s a continuing cycle of oppression,” she said.

Still, Hassan said students at USM aren’t ready to call for resignations of administrators yet.

“There’s absolutely some time for education,” she said, although she added that the time may be growing short.

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