UCLA and its faculty expressed outrage Tuesday that Los Angeles police detained people arrested during protests against George Floyd’s death at the university’s Jackie Robinson Stadium, named for Major League Baseball’s first Black player and a school alum.
“Last evening, UCLA students were arrested for engaging in the constitutionally protected right to peacefully protest against racial injustice, which is pervasive in American policing,” read a letter posted by UCLA urban planning professor, Ananya Roy, which she signed with more than a dozen other faculty members. “They were detained and processed at a stadium on their own campus named after Jackie Robinson, an icon of the long and unfinished struggle for Black freedom.”
The university, in a separate statement on Twitter, wrote that it was “troubled by accounts of Jackie Robinson Stadium being used as a ‘field jail.’ This was done without UCLA’s knowledge or permission. As lessee of the stadium, we informed local agencies that UCLA will NOT grant permission should there be a request like this in the future.”
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that it held arrested protesters at the stadium, but “was no longer using it,” Officer Mike Lopez told NBC News.
Protests in LA and elsewhere have raged since the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled into his neck for several minutes.
Robinson, a standout athlete at UCLA who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, made his historic debut on April 15, 1947, against the Boston Braves. Robinson would go on to win the rookie of the year, the league MVP in 1949 and bat .311 over a 10-year career that landed him in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Every April 15, MLB players celebrate his pioneering exploits by wearing his number, 42. (This year MLB postponed its season amid the coronavirus pandemic.)
He died at age 53 in 1972.
Robinson was also active in advocating for civil rights and school integration.