In solidarity with black communities on campuses nationwide, a group of around 200 Yalies — all dressed in black — took to Cross Campus Friday afternoon for National Blackout Day.
The demonstration, organized by the Black Student Alliance at Yale, was held in response to the recent fatal shootings of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eli Ceballo-Countryman ’18, who organized the blackout, said that the gathering was to serve as a photo opportunity for student activists to show their support for and recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We’re standing in solidarity with campuses all across the nation and the cities most affected by this tragedy,” said Ceballo-Countryman, addressing the crowd as participants gathered in front of Sterling Memorial Library.
The demonstration began with a short speech from Ceballo-Countryman about the importance of communal spirit and “collective resilience,” which was followed by a moment of silence to mourn the recent deaths of Crutcher and Scott. Student activists raised a BSAY banner reading “Freedom through Collective Struggle” throughout the event.
The blackout, which initially started in front of Sterling library, had to move to the lawn next to William L. Harkness Hall due to the unexpectedly large crowd that showed up. Protestors marched to the new location for a group photo, which depicted demonstrators putting their fists up in unison, while repeating chants ranging from “no justice, no peace, no racist police,” to “shut it down.”
Participants interviewed described a sense of disillusionment with repeated losses for the black community. Most of them declined to comment — one said there is “nothing new to be said.”
“The fact that this is a daily reality stuns me. I heard about this back when I was in Kenya but the actuality of everything surrounding this has left me speechless,” Ruhi Manek ’20 said.
Tiffany Fomby ’19, who was present at Friday’s rally, similarly expressed frustration at the repeated deaths of black people at the hands of police officers.
BSAY organized a similar event last December, after news broke of the non-indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown. Titled “Hands up, Don’t Shoot,” last year’s blackout drew a crowd of a similar size.