Students and staff gather in peaceful protest

in News/SCSU News by

Students and faculty gathered on the cold Tuesday, Nov. 25, night by candlelight to honor the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was killed on Aug. 9, 2014. Protesters gathered in solidarity with both the Brown family, as well as the hundreds of other rallies happening across the country.
The rally was organized in response to the non-indictment ruling in the case of Darren Wilson, the officer responsible for Brown’s death. Although it was put together on short notice, the event had an altogether decent turnout. Chants, shouts, and pleas for justice were bracketed by advocates expressing their condolences, and sharing their opinions over the megaphone. Among these were  Miguel Chavez, director of Chicano studies at SCSU, Hedy Tripp, representing the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), and Ben Bourgoin, president of the Social Responsibility Student Organization.
Tammy McGee, the university’s vice president for finance and administration, read a statement from President Potter, who could not personally attend the rally.
“Thank you all for acting on what is in your hearts.  Thank you all for your commitment to make a difference.  Thank you all for being here.”
After the collection was thoroughly chilled by the cold weather, an additional educational meeting was held in Atwood, with the goal of further discussing race relations, and devising a plan of action dealing with similar events in the future. Ben Bourgoin, in regards to gathering said, “The main goal was simply to address injustice and racism in our society. But it was also smaller than that, it was to take this action on campus, join students together, and give them the opportunity to voice their opinions,” he continued. “Big picture, what we are doing is giving students a venue through which they can develop themselves while simultaneously impacting their community.”
Brittany Downs, an SCSU student who attended the rally, talked about the importance of events like this. “I think it is really important for students to get involved in these discussions that greatly affect a campus of such diversity,” she said. “It’s important to take opportunities to educate ourselves and really think about what we can do to make a change when things like Ferguson happen.”
In the last week, a movement very similar to everything that’s happened in the wake of Ferguson has taken place in response to the grand jury ruling in the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed, 43-year-old man from New York. Garner was killed last July after being put into a chokehold by police.
The grand jury ruled that there was not enough evidence to bring the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, up on criminal charges. There is video footage showing the entire altercation between NYPD and Garner. This has sparked nationwide outrage, resulting in die-ins, marches, and the twitter hashtag “#ShutItDown,” which calls protesters to gather at different events and locations, demanding attention be brought to these issues.
So far, it’s unclear whether or not this recent wave of protest has caught the attention of SCSU, and if there are future events planned.  However, President Potter said in his statement, “We are committed to making change now, and in the long run, not just for ourselves but for others.”