As Penn football played to maintain their undefeated record at the Homecoming game on Saturday, another team of students rushed onto the field with their own goals.
Right before the second half of the game began, a group of over 60 student protestors involved with Fossil Free Penn ran onto Franklin Field during Penn’s Oct. 22 game against Yale, aiming to delay the game and push University administration to meet the group’s demands.
After being escorted off the field by officers an hour into the protest, 19 students were detained in the Penn Police station at Chestnut and 40th streets, according to FFP’s press conference.
The University reiterated a statement made by Penn Athletics, writing that “The intentional disruption of today’s football game was neither an appropriate expression of free speech, nor consistent with Penn’s open expression guidelines,” according to an email sent to The Daily Pennsylvanian from University spokesperson Ron Ozio.
The statement said that the “student protesters’ conduct does nothing to advance their legitimate policy concerns, concerns the University shares, but rather impinges upon the rights of others in the community to participate in the life of the campus,” adding that any students involved will be referred to the “Office of Community Standards and Accountability.”
FFP has been camping on Penn’s College Green for over five weeks, and the group has remained resolute in calling for its three main demands: a public commitment from Penn toward preserving the University City Townhomes, total fossil fuel divestment, and making payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, to Philadelphia public schools.
The protestors carried three banners with their demands and led chants — asking the crowd “Whose side are you on?”
Penn administrators and open expression observers went onto the field, took pictures of protestors, and asked them to leave. Police, meanwhile, stayed on the sidelines with zip-tie handcuffs in hand.
While some members of the crowd applauded and held up FFP’s flyers in support of the demonstration, many in the crowd booed the protestors and chanted “Get off the field.”
After 35 minutes of being on the field, a group of protestors were ushered off the field peacefully — a smaller group remained on the field with their banners.
After 50 minutes, police officers began apprehending student protestors with zip-tie cuffs and escorting them off the field as many in the crowd cheered.
Later in the afternoon, organizers held a press conference on in front of Penn Police‘s station at Chestnut and 40th streets, according to an FFP press release.
On their Instagram beginning Oct. 5, the group had been publicizing this demonstration as the “biggest FFP protest ever." Throughout this semester, student activists and community groups have held several other demonstrations during Penn President Liz Magill’s inauguration and welcome events.
Most recently during Magill’s academic procession on Oct. 21 — ahead of her inauguration ceremony — a dozen protestors associated with the Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes stood by the entrance to the ceremony and demanded that Penn take action.
Protestors there told The Daily Pennsylvanian that they planned on continuing to attend University events until administrators commit to the preservation of the UC Townhomes. Currently, residents of the Townhomes are set to be evicted on Dec. 27.
Earlier this semester, the Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes also organized a protest that interrupted Magill’s convocation speech. Magill ended convocation abruptly, and students later reported that they faced disciplinary action for their alleged involvement.
Senior reporter Jared Mitovich contributed reporting.