Sitting in a circle on the New Haven Green yesterday, a crowd of over 100 Yale students, city residents and out-of-towners raised their arms and fists in solidarity with Michael Brown, the 18 year-old African American male shot to death by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 9.
Theirs was one of tens of similar demonstrations the shooting has inspired across the country. Brown’s death has sparked backlash and controversy surrounding racial profiling and tensions between law enforcement officials and citizens. The Tuesday rally, organized largely by graduate students, was an effort to continue the conversation and make the message heard in the community, said Henry Chapman ART ’15.
“It wasn’t something that we could be quiet about,” he said. “Structural racism… affects all of us.”
The rally began shortly after noon with a reading of the five principles behind the rally that collectively condemned Brown’s killing, the race-based assumptions presumed to surround his death and the response from authorities that followed. Carrying signs reading “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and “Murder is Illegal,” the marchers walked to the New Haven Green and sat silently for a few minutes, before returning to the Beinecke.
According to Chapman, there has been at least one previous Ferguson-related rally in New Haven at the town hall. Stacey Lawrence GRD ’16, who learned about the event through the Yale Black Graduate Student Network, also helped organize the rally, which she said was necessary in addition to the nationwide denunciation of the Ferguson shooting. She said she felt it was important for people of all races, genders and types to ask themselves: “What’s the value on a human life?”
President Barack Obama announced Monday plans that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will visit Ferguson on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into Brown’s death.