Students march for peace

Students pray outside the gates at Old Main on Tuesday. The event, sponsored by the Performing Arts for Effective Civic Education student organization, was a solidarity march from Carmen Hall to Old Main for the events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

In the midst of the frigid night, about 20 students gathered in front of Carman Hall holding signs reading “black lives matter” and a list of black men with one thing in common — death at the hands of a white man.

Each marched from Carman Hall to Old Main in solidarity, protesting the trial decision from Ferguson, Mo., Tuesday evening.

Shamerea Richards, the president of Performing Arts for Effective Civic Education, said the event was spontaneous, but it needed to happen to show the Eastern and Charleston communities they care about the situation.

Last August, Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, fired six shots at 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black teenager.

The case was brought to a grand jury and the decision was made not to indict Wilson, which was followed by a series of looting, riots, protests and arson.

“We’re here and we care,” Richards said.

Richards, who originally planned the event at an earlier date, canceled it because she felt not many would come out; however, when the crowds of people did show up, Richards said she felt blessed and thankful.

The students walked in unison across campus, holding up signs while shouting and chanting, “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “no justice no peace, no racist police.”

Once the students arrived at the gates, they huddled together, praying before lighting tea-light candles.

Richards said being proactive rather than reactive is the message that should be taken away the march.

Brad Chatman, a senior communication studies major, said the march was a great example of people coming together in unity and being proactive.

Chatman said people should be treated equally instead of being seen in a negative light based on a stereotype.

One woman, who was in the crowd of students huddled together in front of the gates of Old Main, said “Don’t let this (movement) stop here.”

Richards said she understands why the black residents of Ferguson reacted in such a way toward the overall situation of both Brown’s death and the case.

She added the anger and protests were their natural reaction to the situation.

Richards, who has younger brothers, said the issue hit her close to home because she does not want the same act of violence to happen to them; she also wants to be a mother someday.

“It hurts me because I hope to one day bear a child,” Richards said.

While on a plane coming back from Las Vegas, Richards overheard a man talking about the trial’s outcome and he was very upset about it.

She said she researched the case and based on what she knew, she understood why he was not indicted, but she did not agree with it.

“I felt like there was no justice,” Richards said. “If you feel like something needs to be changed you need to make it happen.”

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]