Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Hands Up, Walk Out’: UMass community responds to Ferguson decision

By Jason Kotoch

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(Alex Lindsay/Daily Collegian)

(Alex Lindsay/Daily Collegian)

Approximately 800 University of Massachusetts students, faculty and staff participated in a national “Hands Up, Walk Out” protest Monday afternoon.

The protest was organized in response to the Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.[liveblog]

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Participants, angered by the decision, assembled in front of the Student Union at 1:01 EST to coincide with the moment Brown was shot.

A four minute, 30 second moment of silence was held to remember the four hours and 30 minutes Brown lay dead on the sidewalk in the St. Louis suburb.

Following the moment of silence, event organizer Jasmine Bertrand-Halidy, a kinesiology major, read from a statement saying, “This is a national call to action. I am walking out in solidarity with Mike Brown and all of the innocent people who have been murdered due to state sanctioned violence. If you believe black lives matter, join me.”

Attendees cheered as speakers addressed the myriad of problems facing communities of color around the nation.

UMass graduate student Rayoung Song held a small yellow sign with the name of Phillip Pannell, a black teenager who was shot by New Jersey police in 1990. Song said that what happened in Ferguson is a national problem.

“There are so many reasons why I’m here,” Song said. “The issue of racism affects everyone.”

The event was organized by Bertrand-Halidy of Student Bridges and Maija Hall from the Center for Policy and Advocacy in coordination with a Missouri-based group called Ferguson Action, whose website reported that at least 83 schools and businesses participated in the national walk out protest.

Ahead of the event, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy communicated his support in an email to the campus community, saying, “It will assuredly raise awareness of what Ferguson reveals about the state of racial justice in our country and will provide an opportunity for our community to come together in solidarity.”

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Subbaswamy urged faculty to accommodate students who wished to participate in the event.

Amherst resident Sovann-Malis Loeung came to the University to join the protest with her daughter.

“What do I have to do to protect my children?” Loeung said.

Loeung held a banner that read, “Justice for Carolyn,” in support of Carolyn Gardner, an Amherst High School teacher who was the target of racist threats last year.

“This issue of racism is very important and it really is a local issue,” Loeung said.

Jason Kotoch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @jasonkotoch.

For more photos from Monday’s rally check out the Daily Collegian’s slideshow



15 Responses to “‘Hands Up, Walk Out’: UMass community responds to Ferguson decision”

  1. Steve on December 2nd, 2014 3:11 am

    Is 800 students really the “UMass community”?

  2. Mark on December 2nd, 2014 7:58 am

    For a large university, there sure aren’t many critical thinkers around here. The issue of racism affects everyone and it’s a two-way street. Where is the concurrent outrage for Mr. Farrakhan openly calling for genocide in a speech given just a few days ago? Or Sharpton and Jesse Jackson’s respective call-to-arms in their remarks over the past week? Does anyone have a problem with the way those people incite violence?

    What about black on white crime, which is far more prevalent than police killings of blacks? I would argue that black on white crime should more often than not be properly classified as a hate crime, except there is a standing order from the US Atty General not to prosecute blacks for hate crimes. Does that seem right to anyone?

    In the particular case of Mr. Brown, it is clearly a matter of a false cause. The guy was a threatening criminal who assaulted an officer, reached for the man’s gun, and had just committed a violent crime. Why won’t a judge unseal his criminal records pursuant to a media request made yesterday? Because it ruins the narrative that Michael Brown was a good guy. It seems the only person who thought he was a good guy were his parents. Maybe you don’t deserve to die for robbing a store. But if you bum-rush a cop trying to do his job in apprehending a violent criminal, well, you have to realize you might get shot. Everything else about this case is just noise.

  3. alum on December 2nd, 2014 9:31 am

    I note that the story says 800 students, faculty and staff……..can’t help the students who just walked out of classes they or their parents paid for but if any faculty or staff walked out on their jobs, they should be fired. I guess they were lucky it was lunch time.

  4. Zac Bears on December 2nd, 2014 1:13 pm

    A 400 year history of racial oppression is a one way street in the U.S., and I walked out with my dean and associate dean. Who’s going to fire me?

  5. School parent on December 2nd, 2014 1:19 pm

    Why does the Chancellor seek to honor Michael Brown, a big bully who engaged in a strong-arm robbery, and then struck a police officer and tried to wrestle a gun away from the officer. Michael Brown was no choir boy. Indeed, he bullied and intimidated a store owner and then sought to terrorize a police officer. As a parent of a current student, and a donor to the school, I am disgusted that an unholy alliance of leftist radicals and a cohort of some minority student seek to turn the Ferguson incident into a racially divisiveness event. It is a shame that Michael Brown chose to engage in criminal activity, and got himself killed by attacking a police officer. I know that there is a quiet majority of students and parents who respect the law, and respect the grand jury process. Unfortunately, the politically correct faculty members are able to intimidate students into spouting the party one. Indeed, it is dangerous for students to speak truth to the power of the ruling faculty elite who impose their ideology on students. What is pathetic is that a false narrative of the Ferguson incident is now being propagated by the mainstream media and leftists on campus. Never let the truth get in the way of a warped political narrative.

  6. Kris on December 2nd, 2014 2:31 pm

    No one is going to fire you or those deans, Zac. That is the problem.

  7. alum on December 2nd, 2014 3:40 pm


    I’m guessing no one ’cause you don’t have a real job.
    And I’m guessing no one is going to fire your dean and associate dean given the current makeup of the university leadership.

  8. Zac Bears on December 2nd, 2014 5:03 pm

    Judge not lest ye be judged.

  9. Larz on December 3rd, 2014 3:17 pm

    The crowd’s anger is misdirected. Michael Brown was not an innocent person “murdered due to state sanctioned violence.” He was responsible for his own violent end. You should be outraged by the no-indictment decision today in the case of Eric Garner, who was choked to death for selling cigarettes on the sidewalk of Staten Island. There’s a difference between the two cases. Mr. Garner deserves your support and anger. Michael Brown should have your pity.

  10. Mark on December 3rd, 2014 4:47 pm

    It is hard to imagine that these Massholes are the inheritors of the legacies of Sam and John Adams. What a disgrace!

  11. Greg on December 3rd, 2014 6:21 pm

    Do any of these numbskulls know how to read. Look at the grand jury report and the autopsy report. What is there not to understand. The guy grabbed the cops gun. Go up to an Amherst city cop and try that and see what happens, Unfortunately, Michael Brown was a bully thug with a long rap sheet and a total lack of good judgement.
    His Momma and Daddy didn’t teach him to well.

  12. Goodo on December 3rd, 2014 6:40 pm

    Some college kids and faculty walked out of class? Wow, what bravery. That’ll teach those cops. Nothing like a little indulgence in attention-seeking to accomplish what, exactly? If it happens again, I suggest running to ones room crying and slamming the door really hard. That’s what my 5 year old does and it can’t be any less effective than a bunch of nobodies walking out of class.

  13. Zac Bears on December 3rd, 2014 8:42 pm

    Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief, said in an August 2014 Vice Magazine interview, “Simply put, white cops are afraid of black men.” He argues cops learn discrimination on the job, just like most people learn discrimination from media and society.

    “Almost always … (stories about individuals who threaten or attack police officers) are situated in the black community,” Stamper continued. “So what’s happening at a very subtle level – you don’t have to even express a racist point of view. But what you’re doing, the meta-communication of all of that is: If you’re going to get hurt as a cop, it’s going to be at the hands of a black person. It’s going to be a male.”

    He wrote in “Breaking Rank,” his 2005 book, “I’m afraid this reality has licensed panicky white cops to shoot unarmed black men when they should be talking, or fighting, their way out of a sticky situation.”

  14. why zee on December 4th, 2014 5:19 pm

    the solution is really very simple, get blacks to OBEY THE LAW and surprise, police officers won’t be trying to arrest them

  15. Jordan on January 17th, 2015 10:02 am

    That’s definitely not 800 people. Source: I was there

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