Demonstration recognized discrimination against people of color
THE SANTA CLARA
October 30, 2014
Last week, nearly 60 students laid down on chalk outlines of bodies drawn in front of Shapell Lounge to mimic the appearance of a crime scene.
At the end of their demonstration, the students stood in a circle, held hands and sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the black national anthem.
To protest police brutality, members of Igwebuike, Santa Clara’s black student union, held a demonstration for National Anti Police Brutality Day on Oct. 22.
Igwebuike co-chairs, juniors Lauren Gardiner and Semani Yehdego, organized the protest in an effort to raise public awareness of police brutality against unarmed citizens. Gardiner said part of Igwebuike’s job on campus is to represent people of color. She said the demonstration accomplished this goal, since victims of police-initiated violence are disproportionately black.
The issue of police violence against African Americans recently gained national attention after a police officer shot black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Miss. this August. Outrage among the black community about the shooting sparked a series of protests in Ferguson, which gained national attention.
Among the Ferguson protesters was author and activist Cornel West, who was arrested on Oct. 13, just 10 days after he visited Santa Clara to speak about activism within the black community. Yehdego said West’s arrest helped inspire Igwebuike’s decision to hold the demonstrations.
“(The Igwebuike protest) demonstrates (Santa Clara’s) mission,” Yehdego said. “This is how we can show what we’ve learned about social justice.”
The demonstrators did not solely pay tribute to black victims, nor did they deride police officers.
Yehdego said that she has friends and family in law enforcement, and that she has no ill will towards the institution or towards the people in law enforcement.
“We’re not calling for a war on police officers,” she said. “It’s just our way of saying that people shouldn’t be killed if they’re not armed and dangerous.”
Junior Kendall McIntosh, who participated in the demonstration, said that although the message of the protest may not reach far beyond campus, he participated because the cause is important to him and to the rest of the black community.
“Each generation has their own protest or movement,” he added. “This one could be ours.”
Contact Collin Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org .