Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Candlelight vigil held to mourn deaths of victims of police violence

(Daily Collegian Archives)
(Daily Collegian Archives)

Around 200 people of different races, ethnicities and age groups came out to the University of Massachusetts at 6:30 p.m. Monday night to mourn the deaths of Tyre King, Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott and all other lives lost to police brutality in the United States.

“It was beautiful, actually, to see so many people from so many different backgrounds coming in to commemorate on an issue surrounding black lives,” said President of Graduate Students of Color Association Ashley Carpenter.

The vigil was organized by the GSCA with help from the Black Student Union (BSU), and featured six prepared speakers, as well as several speeches from members of the crowd.

The prepared speakers were Dr. Amilcar Shabazz, a professor in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, Vira Douangmany-Cage, a member of the Amherst School Committee and an UMass alumna, a poet, a pastor, and two members of the GSCA.

“Tonight we light candles to remember all of the brothers and sisters that we have lost unjustly,” said Nigel Golden, a member of GSCA and one of the speakers at the event.

Several signs were held up among the mourners, some reading, “Stop turning us into a hashtag,” “We stand with Charlotte” and “Hands up don’t shoot!”

“As we stand here in peaceful solidarity tonight, we want to ensure the safety and welfare of all,” Carpenter said. “Unfortunately we can no longer ignore what is happening in this country as we literally fear dying in the streets.”

“I think we need some different narratives out there, and I think that one of those narratives is that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Shabazz said.

Shabazz also encouraged attendees to “continue to be vigilant, continue to do what you can in your spaces to make things better, continue to organize, continue to agitate, continue to educate. There’s really no more important work that we can do than that.”

As mourners raised their candles in honor of the lost lives, tensions rose within the crowd after a white photographer took a black woman’s photograph without asking her permission. From there, the white mourners in the crowd were asked to leave by a few of the black mourners, even though the GSCA publicized the event as open to everyone.

“I’m sorry that that happened, because that was not the undertone that we were going in with, it was built under solidarity and being peaceful,” Carpenter said. “There was a shift in that there could have been a dialogue and space to give that photographer more autonomy and to give that woman autonomy as well to say something about that, where she felt like her body wouldn’t be disrespected.”

Gaelle Rigaud, secretary of the BSU, and a junior at UMass studying English and Afro-American Studies said, “Those who spoke up have every right to ask for black space, I have nothing wrong with them doing that, but at the end of the day the event was for everyone.”

“These are times in which there are a lot of emotions, there are a lot of feelings that people have, and they have to be understood as individual and not as a group,” Shabazz said. “It is really about can we, with all these different mix of feelings that we’re having right now, nonetheless try to find a place of unity, and a place of solidarity to process this terrible, terrible set of injustices that continue to go on.”

Stefan Gellar can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 27, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    @cecile: Did you look to see just WHO was speaking in that video? A black man, decrying the epidemic of BLACK ON BLACK violence.

    If police act inappropriately, then I will be the first in line to protest it; not riot. A protest can be peaceful; I’ve been to many. Throwing things through windows? Slamming people to the ground? That’s not a protest, that rises to the definition of a riot. Words mean things. When a bunch of people start damaging private property, that’s a riot and all your intentions mean nothing against the definition of the word.

    And here’s another video, by another black man.

    Look, I want to save lives. To have the most effect, let’s FIRST start by the DOCUMENTED FACT that over 90% of blacks that are murdered are murdered by other blacks.

    Where are the protests about that, hmmm? Where are the protests about the deaths every frigging weekend in Chicago? Hmmm?

    Michael Brown? “Hands up don’t shoot” was a lie; he punched a cop, attempted to steal the cop’s gun, and then charged that same cop. The guy in Milwaukee? Carrying; pulled a gun and was shot by a black cop. A BLACK cop. Right now the evidence in NC is that he also had a gun.

    IIRC, the cop was black, the mayor is black, even the police chief is black. But let’s protest WHITES. Brilliant.

    HOWEVER… given what I know – and it’s not a lot – about the OK shooting, THAT one I want to watch. Because that one DOES sound like a “bad shoot” and if that’s the case, there should be a prosecution.

    You say “black lives matter”? Where are you on abortion? Because the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was a noted racist and eugenicist, who thought black people should be wiped out. In Harlem and other places, the most dangerous place to be if you’re black is in a black woman’s womb. You want to save black lives, start with that.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 27, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    @paul smith: Black lives matter only when it’s politically expedient to keep blacks on the Democrat plantation.

    Compare NC vs. OK. I would, as have others, that the OK shooting has far, far more potential to be a REAL “bad shooting” than NC. Yet, no riots there. Why? Could it be that NC is in play electorally, while OK is still a GOP lock?

    This, BTW, is why I contend the shooting of Trayvon Martin, aka “Saint Trayvon of the Holy Hoodie”, was such a Big F-ing Deal. If he’d been shot by a Hispanic (and George Zimmerman IS Hispanic with a black grandfather!) with an ethnically-appropriate name (e.g., Jorge Sanchez) it’d have been a minor story. BUT… it was politically useful to paint GZ as a white to tell the blacks “Watch out, whitey’s coming for you!”

    Every two years blacks pull the levers for Dems, and in return they get… what? EBT cards and subsidized housing. Pulling the lever for pellets and a cage – how’s it feel to be reduced, BY DEMOCRAT DESIGN, to the status of a lab rat?

    Pin the Tale on the Donkey: Democrats’ Horrible Racist Past | Bill Whittle

  • C

    CecileSep 27, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    @Paul these comments are out of place here, the vigil was for police brutality towards black men in the last 2 weeks. So no this man was not mentioned, but if you want to organize a vigil in his honor feel free to do so. Moreover, you don’t know what a riot is. What is happening in Charlotte are protests and not riots. Check your facts.
    @David, one of your “video evidence” is titled “how savage are blacks in America” and you trying to sound objective and “openminded”? This is a joke. This protest had a goal, and if it does not suit well with you and what you fantasize to be the real problem, just close the article and get going. Why does this even bother you?

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 27, 2016 at 11:49 am

    All lives matter – black, white, and every shade in between.

    HERE… is what BLM is protesting:

    While every police shooting needs to be examined, and carefully, let’s put some scale on this. OVER 90% OF BLACK HOMICIDE VICTIMS ARE KILLED BY OTHER BLACKS!!!

    A few videos people might want to consider – if they’re openminded and want to find solutions, that is.
    ** Title: The Top 5 Issues Facing Black Americans
    ** Title: 30 years of liberal policies more damaging to blacks than slavery – Thomas Sowell

    Video: Why is Everyone Afraid to Discuss Black Violence?

    Blacks are a capable and proud people, with tremendous potential.

  • P

    Paul SmithSep 27, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Did anyone happen to mention the suburban Charlotte white police officer murdered by a black man about 10 days before the riots in Charlotte? Shelby, NC, google it.