Protesters Continue to Respond to Ferguson

This week saw many peaceful protests acted out in silence.

The following is an article written for a student-run newspaper in an undergraduate digital journalism course. You may find the original published here.


December 11, 2014

FERGUSON, MO - From California to New York, on college campuses and in city squares, protesters throughout the nation have continued to demand justice for the shooting death of a teenager by a police officer in a Ferguson, MO.

On Aug 9., Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb. A grand jury announced on Nov. 24 that it had chosen not to indict Wilson for the crime. This decision sparked protest, including arson and destruction of property in Ferguson and St. Louis.

The shooting and failure to indict Mr. Wilson have caused divides throughout the country. Many citizens have responded in anger and despair at what they deem a vast miscarriage of justice.

“You do not understand,” Shirlissa Pruitt, a resident of Ferguson, told The New York Times.

A "die-in" staged at Washington University in St. Louis.

A "die-in" staged at Washington University in St. Louis.

“You do not go through the things that the community goes through. How can you fix what’s going on in the community when you don’t even include the community?”

A week following the grand jury's announcement, groups gathered throughout the country to continue in protest. Many walked out of their workplaces or classrooms with their hands raised, a gesture that has come to represent the Michael Brown shooting.

Other protestors sat in silent protest for four and a half minutes to represent the four and a half hours that Brown's body lay in the street following his death.

In Times Square, a mass of protestors led to some arrests by New York City police.

A group of 200 in Providence, RI marched to the State House, holding signs and chanting "Hands up, don't shoot!" to express solidarity with Brown, who is said to have been killed with his hands up.

“It’s absolutely insane. There has been way too much violence,” Lauren Niedel of the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats organization told the Providence Journal. “We can’t be living our lives one race against another race.”

Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY held a peaceful protest in which citizens and students alike gathered to march across campus. The event involved the reading of eulogies for the "disregard of black lives," as well as a time for reflection for anyone who wished to speak, according to the event's Facebook page.

Students at Washington University in St. Louis marched through campus before holding a "die-in" in which they lay tangled on the floor and on tables, jumbled on top of each other. This silent protest also occurred for four and a half minutes.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) saw a small group of students gather to observe a moment of silence for Brown.

“We’re out here not just because they called for a protest, but because we all have a responsibility to put a stop sign in what can only be described as American genocide by these institutions,” said a sophomore at UCLA, Tala Deloria, to The New York Times.

Demonstrators march to the State House in downtown Providence, RI.

Demonstrators march to the State House in downtown Providence, RI.

Citizens of all ages have participated in the protests.

Nearly 350 students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge, MA left during the school day to attend a protest in Harvard Square.

Many marchers in New York City were also teenagers.

"It's an outrage that this nonindictment could happen in this country," said Zoe Fruchter, a 15-year-old student at Bard High School Early College in Manhattan.

Clara Kraebber, 14, from Hunter College High School in Manhattan, expressed a similar sentiment and praised the march as a way for younger citizens to participate and share their opinions. "We don't have much political power right now, being youths, but this is something we can do," she said.

Not everyone is opposed to the lack of indictment for Wilson. Many citizens have expressed their support for his actions, citing his role of an authority as a police officer.

Despite the variety of protests being held, it is clear what these citizens are demanding: what many believe to be justice for this teenager's death