Georgia Tech students rally around their campus and their police force

Georgia Tech students are showing support Tuesday for their school and their police officers.

Upset with the damage to their campus and its reputation after a vigil for a student killed by campus police turned violent late Monday, students have organized a show of support for their campus police, school and the friends of the student. And they want to clear up some facts.

Students on social media blame Monday’s vigil violence on outsiders who attended, although at least one of the three people arrested is a Tech student.

Georgia Tech reports two of its officers suffered minor injuries in the melee involving fireworks and anti-police chants. One officer was transported to Grady Hospital. A police car was set on fire, reportedly by a flare tossed by a protester.

The vigil began as a peaceful remembrance of fourth-year computer engineering student Scout Schultz of Gwinnett County, who was shot and killed by an officer.

Campus police found Schultz after responding to a call about an armed man on campus. That call turned out to have been made by Scout, investigators say.

According to the GBI: Schultz called 911 alerting them “of a suspicious person on campus.” In the call, Schultz describes the person as a white male, with long blonde hair, white T-shirt and blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip.

Once confronted by police in a parking lot on Tech’s west campus, Scout urged them to shoot and ignored their pleas to drop what police thought might be a knife. It turned out to be a utility tool, but the knife blade was not out. The student also left three suicide notes, according to the GBI, which is being cited as evidence that Scout’s ultimate goal was to goad police into firing.

However, in a press conference earlier Monday, Scout’s parents questioned the use of lethal force to deal with a student having a mental breakdown and carrying what turned out to be only a utility tool.

“Why did you have to shoot?” Bill Schultz asked at a news conference. “That’s the only question that matters right now. Why did you kill my son?”

In the aftermath of last night's violent vigil in which protesters attacked Tech officers, students today are showing their support of the police department. (Photo by Duo-Wei Yang)

On a GaTech student Facebook page and the Georgia Tech thread on Reddit, students are discussing what they can do.

A cleanup of the vigil area was initially planned, but it turned out the university had that under control. So, students then planned to set up tables across campus where campus members can write letters and posters to show support for the Georgia Tech Police Department and Scout’s family and friends.

Among the comments on social media are these:

  • The protesters on campus right now are primarily NOT Tech students. I was there at the vigil and 20-30 outsiders with signs and drums showed up and started the riot. As they marched to the police station they set off fireworks. This was planned from the outside. Scout’s friends were advocating for changes to mental health policy on campus when the protesters showed up and started chanting about violence against police. Please let people & the media know that this is not us. This is not our community. We are still grieving.
  • While it may be difficult to delineate ourselves from the violent protesters, we can do an effective job of coming together as a community of students after a horrific event like this to show that we are united and have nothing but the utmost respect for our campus and brave police officers!
  • It sounds like there’s some real jerks making a mess. I’ll be out by 8:30am helping to clean up what I can. I hope everyone who disagrees that violence was appropriate tonight will join me.
  • Thinking of getting some donuts or something for the Georgia Tech Police Department.
  • Anyone want to wear blue tomorrow in honor of the Georgia Tech Police Department and their actions to keep us safe tonight?
  • I will be wearing GT apparel tomorrow in support of the school that I love so dearly, and I encourage you all to do the same. Outsiders who wish to threaten the safety of our students, our faculty, and our police officers have no place in our community.
  • By not believing for a second that the protests are Tech. We are Tech.

A GoFundMe page created by the Georgia Tech Marksmanship Club has already raised nearly $5,000 in 12 hours of the $10,000 goal to aid the Georgia Tech Police Department.

But some people are not supportive of the fundraising effort, as shown by comments such as these: “Nice bootlicking, son. You know the cops killed someone having a mental health crisis, right? You wanna buy them some new guns too?”

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.