By Sunita Sohrabji

The violently racist encounter has gained the praise of several Republican politicians.

A person in overalls holding a phone

Description automatically generated(X/Twitter video screen grab)

A Black supporter of Palestine was viciously taunted at the University of Mississippi campus, as a member of a fraternity jumped up and down and made ape-like sounds, while other fraternity brothers chanted “lock her up,” in the style of former President Donald Trump.

Jaylin Smith, who will receive her master’s degree this month from the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media, was live-streaming a counter-protest May 2 on the campus known as ‘Ole Miss.’ The crowd of all white men, many wearing clothing emblazoned with the American flag, tuned in on Smith, berating her weight and shouting chants of “Lizzo,” comparing Smith to the Black pop singer. Many raised the finger, shouting “f**k you” at the young woman.


A group of people standing in a crowd

Description automatically generatedPalestine supporter Jaylin Smith was held back by police from engaging with counter-protestors who were mocking her. (x/Twitter video screen grab)

Most disturbingly, police also focused their enforcement efforts on Smith, forcibly pushing her away from her harassers, and largely letting the crowd go wild, as evidenced on video taken at the scene.

The counter-protestors garnered praise from several politicians, including Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson, and State Auditor Shad White.

“Warms my heart. I love Mississippi!” wrote Reeves on X/Twitter. Congressman Mike Collins, R-Georgia, also cheered on the racist encounter, posting “Ole Miss, taking care of business” to his X/Twitter feed.

The organization UMiss for Palestine has characterized the standoff as “violent, Islamophobic, Xenophobic, racist behavior” perpetrated by “white supremacists.” In a statement, the organization alleged that the counter-protestors repeatedly used the word “n***er” when addressing the Black Palestine supporters, and also threw trash at them, saying: “here’s your humanitarian aid.”


“Counter-protestors were allowed to violently berate protestors, without repercussion or intervention,” claimed UMiss for Palestine. The University of Mississippi said it is investigating the incident and police response.

The NAACP has identified the student imitating an ape, a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, which announced that he had been removed as a member after a video taken by a student journalist went viral. The civil rights organization is also asking for the expulsion of several other students shown in the video.

Jaylin Smith responds

Smith did not return several phone calls by Ethnic Media Services. She also did not respond to EMS’ direct messages on Facebook and Twitter. On her Facebook page, the student said the incident has taken a terrible toll on her mental health, as she was “mocked all over the world,” while simultaneously preparing to defend her graduate thesis.

“These past few days have not been easy. I’ve cried more times than I can count,” wrote Smith on her Facebook page. “I wipe my tears with my head held high. I pray for the protection of innocent lives that are being endangered on both sides of the Gaza Strip. I pray for a cease-fire. I pray for peace.”

In an earlier post, Smith noted that she was not filming the counter-protest as a journalist, but in her individual capacity as a supporter of Palestine. “There was nothing unbiased in my actions. I commend the student journalists that were able to remain professional and avoid picking a side. That just wasn’t me.”

Several of the men at the scene posted on X/Twitter that Smith had broken through police barricades to taunt the counter-protestors.  

Smith defended her actions. “My strong language was not a reflection of the Pro-Palestine protestors. That language was a reflection of the hurt and anger and fear that has been all too familiar to people of color. I know that I stooped down to the agitators’ level when I responded the way that I did. I won’t apologize for that, but as I mature, I will find better ways to manage conflict,” she said.

The underbelly of a racially divided nation made its presence known on X/Twitter, with an overwhelming number of posters berating Smith for her weight and her race.

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