Student protesters marched down to Franklin Field on Friday night after a day filled with anxiety and fear stemming from racist messages.
Upon reaching Franklin Field, students tried to enter the stadium during the football game against Harvard, but some were denied entrance, according to three protesters.
Demonstrators said the gates to Franklin Field were shut after they arrived at Franklin Field. The three students interviewed described receiving contradicting instructions from police officers and security guards as they were sent from entrance to entrance. The group was not given clear information about why they were not admitted or when they would be allowed in.
Two students said they were finally allowed into the game after over an hour; the other student said she was never able to get into the stadium.
Crowds of students unaffiliated with the protest were also denied entrance to the game after being sent from entrance to entrance by police officers and security guards.
Penn Athletics released a statement Friday night.
“During the first half of the Penn-Harvard football game, a group of fans approached a gate to Franklin Field without tickets. Penn DPS was on site, and in conjunction with University personnel, a decision was made to temporarily suspend entry into the stadium. We understand that this decision caused some Penn fans, Penn students, and Harvard fans difficulty entering the game, but the safety of the teams and fans of both institutions was our primary consideration. Penn Athletics leadership was in contact with University leadership and DPS throughout the game as is standard practice,” the statement read.
The Division of Public Safety referred The Daily Pennsylvanian to the statement from Penn Athletics when asked to provide comment on Saturday afternoon.
Students interviewed described instances of hostility toward the demonstrators. Two students said bystanders outside the stadium replied to their demonstration with “All lives matter,” and other attendees told them their protest was reason for affirmative action to not exist.
As halftime begins at Franklin Field, Penn students march in front of the seats chanting "Black Lives Matter!" & carrying a range of signs pic.twitter.com/ANcjr2uMmJ— Jonathan Tannenwald (@pretzel_logic) November 12, 2016
Members of Penn's senior class raised fists as they carried their class flag along the sideline during halftime at Franklin Field pic.twitter.com/itnTb8Iatq— Jonathan Tannenwald (@pretzel_logic) November 12, 2016
The protesters initially marched down to Franklin Field from Huntsman Hall following a town hall meeting, attended by Penn President Amy Gutmann. The march that followed drew attention to an incident earlier on Friday in which many black freshmen were added to racist group messages on the messaging app GroupMe.
On Friday afternoon, Penn said it believed the GroupMe account, which created messages using racial slurs and images of lynching, is based in Oklahoma.
"Because we have the luxury of having Penn and Harvard right over there playing football, we're gonna go show them how we feel," a participant in the demonstration said into a megaphone near 34th and Locust streets. "We're going to tell them how black lives have been treated so far by these universities as well as across the country.
"We're going to go onto the football game and we are going to show them black lives matter," he added.
At half time, students walked around the stands chanting, "Black Lives Matter." Some raised fists while carrying the Class of 2017 flag.
This story was last updated on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m.