‘Black Lives Matter’ rally to protest Ferguson grand jury decision

Photo courtesy of Phalande Jean
Photo courtesy of Phalande Jean

A group of University of Miami students will protest the grand jury decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. The group plans to march on campus while wearing black, chanting and holding signs in an effort to spread awareness of racial injustice nationwide.

The march will begin at The Rock and follow a route from the University Center, past the Student Activities Center toward the residential colleges near Lake Osceola. It will continue through the Frost School of Music, the Law School, Dooley Memorial and the Business School, finishing full-circle at The Rock.

Once back at The Rock, the protesters will perform their interpretation of a visual statement called a Die-In. This involves reading the names of victims of racial violence, including Brown and Trayvon Martin. Each name will be followed by the sound of a gunshot, and then a student falling to the ground (“dying”) in response. Once all the names of selected victims are called, the sound of six gunshots will be played to represent the number of times Wilson shot Brown. Finally, the students who remain standing will “die” and remain lying on the ground for four minutes and 30 seconds, representative of the four hours and 30 minutes Brown laid dead on the ground after being shot.

Following the grand jury decision, versions of Die-Ins have been performed around the country, stopping the flow of shoppers in major U.S. malls and interrupting campus life at educational institutions such as Harvard University.

The protest at UM is being organized by a collaboration of students who felt strongly about the Brown case. Though they support the rally independently, many of these students are members of on-campus social justice awareness organizations like United Black Students (UBS), Planet Kreyol (PK) and Students Toward A New Democracy (STAND).

Rebecca Garcia, president of STAND, is a proponent of the protest and said it intends to visually engage students.

“What we hope to accomplish is simple: to increase general awareness for racial equality, but most significantly, the state of black lives in America,” she said. “To demonstrate fully and visibly that black lives do matter, and to engage the campus community in this issue.”

Garcia is one of the hosts of a Facebook event page, #BlackLivesMatter Rally at UM, that invites others to participate in the protest.

“We are inviting any and all individuals who wish to join our protest, to make a statement to the outside community that UM students are educated and passionate about this issue, and are taking a definite stand for justice,” Garcia said.

As of noon Tuesday, 183 people are listed as “going” to the event.