DURHAM, N.C. — Starting Monday, it's Sexual Assault Prevention Week at Duke University. The news comes on the heels of a gang rape investigation involving Duke University's men's lacrosse team.
No one has been charged, and no one on the team is talking, but neighbors are now breaking the silence. The beat of outrage was heard loud and clear in Durham on Sunday.
"We're making this kind of noise because we're standing in solidarity with women who've gone through this horrible atrocity," said protest organizer Manju Rajendran.
Some Duke lacrosse players reportedly hired two exotic dancers from an escort service to dance at a house party earlier in March. One of the women says three men raped, strangled and robbed her.
"I'm enraged and disgusted and embarrassed that something like this has happened," said Duke graduate student Leigh Campoamor.
Police collected DNA samples from 46 Duke lacrosse players. Now, protesters say it's time to come together and demand the truth from the men who were at the home.
"They haven't been convicted, but 30-something kids are remaining silent," said Duke student Jack Bury.
So the group is breaking that silence, with instruments of percussion serving as instruments of change. The banging of pots and pans is a practice that started in Latin America and spread to other countries. They're the tools women have in their kitchens, and they're what they use when they want to make some noise protesting domestic violence.
The noise created by the 150 protestors was loud enough to attract onlookers, but not too loud to warrant police interference. With no one home at the residence where the alleged rape reportedly occurred, the only thing to do was post signs on the house, and hope the message reverberates.
Events are planned every day this week at the university, including a "Take Back the Night" rally Wednesday night to honor survivors.
The lacrosse team was forced to forfeit two games because of the controversy. Fans showed up for Saturday's game and found out it was forfeited, along with Tuesday's match. They were also greeted by protesters, carrying signs that said "Don't be a fan of rapists."
Duke Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said that although the players deny the rape allegations, they concede there was a party with underage drinking. He called the team's judgement inconsistent with Duke values and unacceptable, so he forfeited the two games as punishment.
Duke President Richard Broadhead released his first statement on the situation late Saturday. He urged complete cooperation with police, and said if the accusations are proven true, they will warrant very serious penalties. He added that many members of the lacrosse team, including some who were asked to provide DNA samples, did not actually attend the party.
Broadhead said that no matter what the criminal investigation finds, "It is already clear that many students acted in a manner inappropriate to a Duke team member" in participating in the March 13 party.
The lacrosse team's roster, which included information on players and their pictures, is now missing from the Duke athletics Web site. In its place is a statement from Broadhead on the gang rape allegations and police investigation.
Renee Chou, Reporter
Bobbie Eng, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor
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