Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Students respond to Ferguson shooting

By Marie MacCune

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Students at the rally pose to reflect their anti-police brutality slogan, 'hands up, don't shoot'. (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Students at the rally pose to reflect their anti-police brutality slogan, ‘hands up, don’t shoot’. (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Students of all races gathered around the Student Union in solidarity Wednesday against police brutality and racism in reaction to the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last month.

Together Josh Odam, Christopher Young and Danielle Laroque organized the event.

Odam a sophomore studying political science and legal studies said, “This rally is something that hits home for me because it could have been me, or my brother or my cousin. I don’t want to go to any more funerals with black mothers and black sisters crying because they lost someone to violence and racism. No more.”

“As a black community, we are like one body. It’s been a frequent occurrence, these shootings of unarmed young black men,” said senior sociology student Laroque about why she decided to become involved. “This is a way to show solidarity, to come together and make a change. That’s what we do as student activists.”

When asked why he was involved, economics major Young said, “Black lives matter. That’s all I really have to say.”

Participants wore a piece of red clothing in remembrance of Brown and listened as their fellow students took the floor to tell personal experiences of racism. Cheryl Grandison-Clark, a mathematics major, read an original poem.

Faculty members were present as well, including Armanthia Duncan, a sociology instructor, and Cameron Cox of Residential Life Services. Both spoke to students on the importance of standing up for justice.

Student Government Assoication President Vinayak Rao also attended the rally.

“I came because our Secretary of Diversity Josh Odam was organizing it and we wanted to come by and show our support,” the president said. “As a person of color and an under-represented minority, I think it is important to come together and promote equality. This is what it’s all about.”

While the majority of attendees were from UMass, students came from other parts of the Pioneer Valley to show solidarity.

Rally organizers led the crowd in chanting phrases like “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and “Ain’t no power like the power of the people because the power of the people don’t stop” and “No justice, no peace, no brutal police.”

Throughout the rally, moments of silence were held in honor of young black people killed by police.

One student speaker shouted out, “I am Emmett Till, I am Trayvon Martin, I am Mike Brown.”

Laurie Senat, a junior studying sociology, attended the rally Wednesday and said, “I feel very passionately about this issue, being Haitian-American and experiencing police brutality through my family.  My cousin Gregory was shot and killed by the police, so this is dear to my heart.”

“I hope the UMass campus knows that we are here and that they hear us, and they know we are strong people,” she added.  “When we are passionate about something they will hear us.”

Following the rally outside the Student Union, students marched through campus to the Malcolm X Cultural Center where a “We Need to Talk” meeting was held.

Catherine Ferris contributed to this report.

Marie MacCune can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mariemaccune.

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Students respond to Ferguson shooting”

  1. Junior Boyce on September 11th, 2014 2:40 am

    The problem has been the focus on irrelevant arguments – some of which are actually unsupported by the evidence.

    1. ‘George Zimmerman (GZ) racially profiled Trayvon Martin (TM)’ There is no evidence of this.

    2. ‘GZ disobeyed an order by the police’ * The civilian dispatcher, Sean Noffke, testified that he did not give GZ an order and, in fact, he, like his fellow dispatchers, are trained not make comments that sound like commands. * Noffke also testified under cross that, as a result of his asking GZ which way TM was going, GZ could have reasonably interpreted this as being asked to follow Martin. * It is also not a crime in Florida to disregard a comment made by a civilian dispatcher.

    3. ‘GZ got out of his car’ Not a crime on public property and not negligent either.

    4. ‘GZ followed TM’ Again, anyone can follow anyone on a public street unless the followee has obtained a restraining order against the follower and even there, the RS only places time, place, and manner restrictions on the person enjoined.

    5. ‘GZ wasn’t really injured’ * Under Florida’s self-defense laws, one doesn’t have to be injured AT ALL to use deadly force * No one is required to refrain from defending himself while another is engaged in or attempting to commit a felony.

    6. ‘TM is dead through no fault of his own’ * If you believe that TM assaulted GZ, then he IS dead as a result of his own actions.

    7. ‘GZ could have left’ * Under Florida law, there is not a duty to withdraw rather than use deadly force * TM was straddling GZ so how the latter was supposed to leave the scene is unanswered.

    8. ‘GZ was armed and TM wasn’t’ * One’s fists can be considered weapons and can result in severe bodily harm or death. * GZ was legally carrying a weapon * There is no requirement under the law that the same weapon be used by the assailant * A homeowner can kill an intruder whether or not he has been threatened * Those that attack cannot feign surprise if they are met with superior firepower.

    9. ‘Stand Your Ground!’ * SYG is NOT at issue in this trial. * The defense is a classic self-defense case.

    10. ‘Black men NEVER get to use SYG!’ * Wrong http://tinyurl.com/nboht35

    11. ‘GZ is a man and TM was a boy!’ * As if ‘boys’ don’t commit murder, rape, and assault everyday in this country.

  2. Bob Honiker on September 11th, 2014 6:27 am

    Why isn’t anyone speaking out for all the little c-store workers who are battered and slaughtered by thugs every day?

  3. Cromulent on September 11th, 2014 8:45 am

    Sooooo…….. did the crowd also rob local liquor stores too?

  4. JD on September 17th, 2014 9:02 am

    False narrative is what this is.

    We have low level hoodlums taken out while assaulting someone.

    Local schemers raise a ruckus, attracting the attention of professional schemers.

    They cry about their poor gentle college bound angle being cut down.

    Schemers push for charges to be filed even when the evidence does not support such, because they cannot start their civil shakedown without them.

    They stampede political hacks into doing their bidding with threats of riots or actual riots. During riots lower level schemers loot and burn businesses.

    We have all sen enough of this BS.

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