JMU Instagram

Student takeovers on JMU social media accounts, like Instagram, are a regular occurrence.

During a story takeover on JMU’s official Instagram account Friday evening, junior biophysical chemistry major Daequan Nichols commented on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, claiming that Rittenhouse killed two Black people. The story was quickly taken down. Rittenhouse was found not guilty Nov. 19 on five counts for fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the summer of 2020. Rittenhouse, and the three men he shot, are white.

Rittenhouse attended the Kenosha protests that erupted after Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot by a white police officer in August 2020. Rittenhouse arrived at the protests armed with a semiautomatic rifle and shot and killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26-year-old Anthony Huber. He also shot and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, who’s now 28. During the trial, Rittenhouse said he acted in self-defense.

Nichols is a member of JMU’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter. In the Instagram story he uploaded on JMU’s account, Nichols said the Rittenhouse verdict is a “disgusting reminder of what it’s like to be Black in America.” He also referenced the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Breonna Taylor, which sparked protests in 2020.

“All the protesting, everything we went through in 2020, we really would think would make a change, but clearly it doesn’t,” Nichols said on JMU’s Instagram story. “We scream Black Lives Matter, but it doesn’t matter enough for these people who are in power — the jury, the judge, anybody — to charge this man with murdering and taking away two beautiful Black lives at the ripe ages of 26 and 36.”

Mary-Hope Vass, university spokesperson and director of communications, said JMU offers student “takeovers” on social media platforms, like Instagram, as an opportunity for audiences to learn about student activities and research and for students to interact with the greater community. The takeovers are a regular occurrence.

Vass said the takeovers aren’t meant to be an opportunity for students involved to espouse personal beliefs.

“One of yesterday’s takeovers went into the personal opinion and viewpoints of a student, which are not necessarily reflective of the university,” Vass said.

The JMU NAACP didn’t respond to requests by The Breeze for comment. This story will be updated if the chapter provides a statement.

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