Students Protest for Michael Brown

By on August 24, 2014
Photo by Sarah Adkins

All over the country news stations cover the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Reports state Brown was unarmed and shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. It is believed that Brown had robbed a local gas station prior to the encounter, but the station has yet to file its claim for confirmation.

The event sparked national controversy and renewed conversations about perceptions of race, the potential for undue use of force, and application of military-grade equipment by police departments.

Birmingham has its own long and sordid history of racial tension, but it also progressed as a center for Civil Rights movement. It is only natural that this city would weigh in on the days and weeks following these tragic events.

Several rallies have taken place in the Birmingham area in solidarity with the protests going on in Ferguson, with many young people, including UAB students, willing and eager to take up the mantle as the next generation to carry on the Civil Rights movement.

On August 19, students gathered after a previous rally that took place in Linn Park.

“It’s the time for us to organize,” one student said. “We cannot wait for the old guard…It’s on us now.”

The gathering on the campus green held about 50 students and supporters, including representatives of fraternities such as Alpha Phi Alpha and the Kappa Delta chapter of Omega Phi Psi.

They held up signs that read “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “I am Mike Brown.” Each one voiced their concerns about events in Ferguson and the problems they felt were still endemic in American society, some fifty years after the peak of the Civil Rights movement.

For Shanequa Melsi, the only remarkable thing about the Michael Brown story is that it was a story.

“I’m not surprised. It happens so often, you know,” Melsi said, shaking her head in a resigned way.

For Melsi, the anomaly in this event is that it finally garnered national attention where similar displays all across the country have failed.

Another student echoed the criticism of the decision by Ferguson police to release a video allegedly showing Michael Brown’s involvement in a robbery of a convenience store, despite the police’s earlier statement that the contact between Brown and Officer Wilson had nothing to do with the robbery.

Regarding the late release of the name of the officer, some students expressed understanding of the decision, citing the Ferguson police department’s claim of threats made against Wilson. Others said that the police department should have opted for more transparency from the start.

Jervaughn Hunter chose to take a broad view, citing the recent tragic events as an example of how far our society still has to go in achieving the dreams of the civil rights movement.

“America’s got to care,” Hunter emphasized.

He indicated the other participants of the rally and himself, all of whom share different circumstances but similar experiences.

“There’s no difference. Him, myself, you,” Hunter said, gesturing at each turn. “No difference. So, when are we going to stop the killing?”

Another rally is scheduled next Tuesday, August 26 at Linn Park.

 

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