Trayford Pellerin shooting: UL athletes march against police brutality

Victoria Dodge
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

A week after the Lafayette police killing of 31-year-old Trayford Pellerin, more than 150 University of Louisiana at Lafayette student athletes marched to raise awareness about police brutality.

The march winded along the Cajundome and through the UL campus, ending at the Lafayette Police Department on University Avenue. The football team's leadership council organized the protest, and decided to march sooner rather than later after the killing Pellerin. 

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"This is one of our first plans of action in our campaign as a team to continue to push on things that we want to change and bring light to situations," said T.J. Wishman, leadership council member and redshirt junior running back.

"And it hits home because less than a week ago we saw life lost," Wishman said, referring to Pellerin. "It was a situation that it could have been avoided. It shouldn't have been a tragedy."

The student athlete-driven protest winded along Cajundome and through campus, ending at the Lafayette Police Department on University Ave Friday afternoon. The football team leadership council agreed on a protest after being moved by the death of Trayford Pellerin, 31-year-old who was fatally shot by police last week.

Pellerin, who police say had a knife, was tasered and later shot by Lafayette police officers on Aug. 21 as he attempted to enter a Shell gas station on Northeast Evangeline Thruway. The officers, who attempted to apprehend Pellerin while responding to a disturbance call, have been placed on paid administrative leave.

The entire team also marched, some carrying signs like "I have no value without a jersey." Having the support of the entire team and coaching staff is a source of pride for Wishman. 

This is the fifth protest held in the past week in the wake of Pellerin's killing.

The UL student athlete protest is part of a larger movement of athletes from other colleges, as well as professional athletes and teams, who are speaking out against police killings, brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Before heading out for the protest, head football coach Billy Napier said he listened to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s  "I Have A Dream" speech from the March on Washington, which was 57 years ago Friday and another motivation for the protest. 

"It's amazing how much wisdom, how calculated, how it resonates with you 57 years later," he said. "Which is a good thing and a bad thing. We've made a lot of progress in our country but our work is not done. I think sports has an opportunity in particular to be a great example, to present a united front and to help galvanize our campuses or communities."

"This is one of our first plans of action in our campaign as a team," said T.J. Wishman, leadership council member and UL redshirt junior running back who joined student athlete protest.

Napier hopes the protest by the athletes is used as a conversation starter. The unique thing about the protest to him was how every student came together to support the same purpose—"to impact people, trying to be a great example for our society or community of what unity looks like."

Most other UL athletic teams joined, including the entire volleyball team. 

Contact Victoria Dodge at or on Twitter @Victoria_Dodge