Earlier this week, Kylah Spring stood in front of a crowd of University of Kentucky students gripped by what she was about to say. It had been less than 48 hours since a white student hurled a torrent of racial slurs at Spring by punching, kicking and biting her – a moment captured in a viral video.
At Monday night’s protest, Spring spoke to the woman accused of assaulting her.
“You will not break my spirit and you will be held accountable for your actions,” she said.
Police and university officials said accountability was already underway. On Wednesday, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said Sophia Rosing, the 22-year-old who college police have charged with disorderly conduct, public intoxication, fourth-degree assault and third-degree assault on a police officer, had been permanently banned from Campus. The incident rocked the Lexington, Kentucky campus and thrust the university into the national spotlight.
“I want to emphasize that this behavior was disgusting and devastating to our community. We stand with our students who have been targeted by this unacceptable hostility and violence,” Capilouto wrote Wednesday in an email to university students and staff.
Rosing’s attorney, Fred Peters, did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post, but on Tuesday he told NBC News that he was “involving her in some sort of treatment and awareness program to help him get through this.”
“She’s a very, very embarrassed and humiliated young lady,” Peters said.
At around 1 a.m. Sunday, Spring was working reception at Boyd Hall when Rosing, who police would describe as “very drunk,” entered the residence. Spring said she and other students tried to help the woman, who then allegedly attacked them. The video appears to show Rosing repeatedly calling Spring the n-word while trying to punch her as Spring grabbed Rosing’s arms to keep her at bay.
“Could you stop, please?” Spring asked her.
“No,” Rosing said, as Spring replied, “I don’t get paid enough for this.”
Minutes later, college police arrived at the residence hall where an officer heard Rosing repeat the n-word to a group of black women, a police report said. After the officer took her away, she reportedly told him she “had a lot of money” and was getting “special treatment.” When the officer ordered him to sit in a chair, Rosing kicked him and bit his hand, according to the report.
Rosing was imprisoned at the Fayette County Detention Center. Records show she tied the knot the following night.
University officials said they temporarily suspended Rosing hours after learning what happened. On Tuesday, Peters told NBC News that his client was voluntarily withdrawing from college. A day later, Capilouto sent an email informing students and staff that Rosing was no longer a student and that he had determined that she would not be eligible to re-enroll.
“As a community working wholeheartedly to prevent racist violence, we must also commit to holding people accountable for their actions,” Capilouto said in his post.
Spring said she tries to get through it all with the help of her family and classmates. On Monday evening, she and dozens of others gathered outside a campus library to peacefully protest in what was billed as an anti-racism march. During the protest, people chanted “Black lives matter!” and “No justice, no peace!” according to the Kentucky Kernel, the university’s student newspaper.
Spring addressed the crowd and cameras at the event, specifically addressing “my black community in the UK”.
“I see you, I feel you and I am with you. I matter, you matter and we matter. We will be stronger,” she said. “I would like to leave you with a piece of advice. As Michelle Obama once said, when they go down. . .”
She held out her arms, inviting the crowd to finish.
“We go high!” they answered.
In conclusion, Spring told them to continue to approach the situation with grace and humility. Hold your heads up high and lean on each other “as we heal ourselves and our community,” she said.
As the crowd cheered and applauded her, she wiped tears from her eyes.