Students, Syracuse community rally in response to Ferguson indictment

Protesters began their march from Hendricks Chapel to Marshall Street at the time that Michael Brown was shot on Aug. 9.

On Monday, Dec. 1, Syracuse University’s Quad was silent. More than 100 students, faculty and Syracuse community members filled the area in front of Hendricks Chapel, using their silence to honor the memory of Michael Brown. They remained hushed for 4.5 minutes in remembrance of the 4.5 hours that the unarmed teen was left lying dead in the street after Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed him on Aug. 9. In response to news that Wilson would not be indicted for the incident, they joined a nationwide event that used silence to shout that black lives like Brown’s matter.

After months of student activism in which groups like THE General Body and the SU Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People demanded administrative and social change on campus, speaking out against national injustice seemed second nature to group as they first gathered in 30-degree weather at 12:45 p.m. on Monday. Brown was shot at 12:01 p.m. EST, so at 1:01 p.m. the group joined people across the nation who walked out of their classrooms, offices and homes, sharing frustration about the many black men who continue to fall victim to police brutality. “A system cannot fail those that it was never built to protect,” said senior Kim Powell, an organizer of the event. This is why it was important to organize and fight for their justice, she said, so that their voices will finally be heard. And so they marched. 

“From Syracuse to Ferguson, black lives matter!” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!” were among the group’s cries as they marched from Hendricks Chapel to Marshall Street and back, getting louder and louder as they continued. Some bystanders stared and some took pictures, but most joined. By the time the group made it back to Hendricks Chapel, the crowd had swelled. They continued to chant and hoisted up signs demanding justice before peace and commemorating those like Raul Pinet Jr., a Puerto Rican man who suffocated in Onondaga County Justice Center jail in 2010 after police left him face down wearing a restrictive mask. 

Their stories and the stories of so many more brought together people of all ages and races in hopes of ending an epidemic that is nationwide. They kept chanting as the rally ended: “From Syracuse to Ferguson, black lives matter.”

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