Around 30 GW students braved cold weather and rain to stage a “Die In” in protest of the shooting of Michael Brown and acquittal of office Darren Wilson.
Dubbed #GWFerguson, students yelled chants while laying on the ground for four and a half hours to symbolize the amount of time Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after he was shot on Aug. 9.
Students who were passionate about the shooting of Michael Brown and the current state of race relations were not the only people who participated. Other student organizations like the Students For Sensible Drug Policy and College Democrats voiced support and also participated in the symbolic protest.
According to protest organizer Kinjo Kiema, the events in Ferguson reflect more than just the killing of one African American. “Events in Ferguson over the past few months are just one symptom of racism in police forces and communities,” said Kiema.
Protest organizers also used the time to open dialogue between students and the university. Coming prepared with a list of demands, the organizers hoped that the die-in would draw the university’s attention to them.
These demands were mostly focused on the University Police Department, such as Anti Bias training for all officers as well as student involvement in choosing the next Chief of Police. The demands also focused on academic life, such as a diversity class requirement. Another demand was to create a safe space for reporting incidents of racial bias, which would be similar to the program adopted by George Mason University.
Protest organizers were happy with the turnout and the attention it generated. Participants said they were glad they could show support but long for a time where these protests are not even needed.
“A black person is shot by law enforcement every 28 hours, and there is no civilian oversight at any major police department in the US,” said Kiema. “The time to act on this is now.”