CMU Students Hold Peaceful Protest Following Release of Ferguson Decision

Students on the Central Michigan University campus held a protest and stood together in solidarity as the call for change echoes around the nation following the release of the grand jury decision from Ferguson, Missouri over the Michael Brown case.

Brown’s parents have requested that every protest held in their son’s memory begin with silence, which students at CMU honored. The protesters did so by remaining silent for four and a half minutes, one minute for every hour that Brown’s body was left on the ground after his shooting.

Students chose to stage a peaceful protest as a direct response to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the death of 18 year old Mike Brown. As a result of the decision handed down, riots and protests have ignited in Ferguson and across the country since Monday night.

The protest began small with roughly 30 students in attendance, but it did not take long for word of the demonstration to spread throughout the campus and draw more students in and within an hour of its start, over 120 students had joined in. Many students decided to stay well after the scheduled ending time of 1 o’clock and some even remained in place up to two hours after other students left.

The demonstration was held on the sidewalk located next to CMU’s Park Library, which is aptly located in the heart of the campus enabling the message students intended to send to be heard by many.

Portia Brown, a junior at Central Michigan University and one of the protests organizers said, “If you are not mad, you are not paying attention.”

Students participating in the protests echoed Portia’s sentiments as they chanted saying like, “hands up, don’t shoot,”black lives matter,” and “show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.”

Hannah Mollett was also an integral part of organizing the demonstration and had this to say about her reasons for getting involved, “It’s important to show we care about this issue locally. The issue of Mike Brown’s death is not an isolated incident. I think it’s important to show our solitude to what is happening in Ferguson.”

Mollett also goes on to say that one of the real issues here is the role that racism plays in our society and in the criminal justice system.”I think there is an underlying racism in American society that leads them to believe he was justified. I don’t believe shooting a black unarmed teenager for possibly shoplifting is justified at all. I think it was a flat-out murder, and I don’t think it was right.”

Another student in attendance at the rally was senior Rachel Harrison, who hails from St. Charles, a city close to Ferguson. “I don’t want anyone’s else’s city to be basically burned to the ground. This needs to be talked about. I want to thank everyone for being here. It’s a hard day, but it’s a good day at the same time.”

The students at CMU join hands with others around the nation adding to a circle of hope. Hope of getting their voices heard and eliciting change in the way race is viewed along with changes to the justice system.

Portia Brown’s parting words drive home the intent behind the peaceful protest at CMU, she said “This is not the end, this is not us just making noise. This is to let the people know we don’t agree with the grand jury’s decision. This is the start of a dialogue between students, and letting them know these things are still happening, it still matters and we are going to do something about it.”

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