Hands Up! Don’t Shoot! At Eastern

(From The Campus Lantern – December 4, 2014)

Alexandra Andre / Eastern Connecticut State University

Alexandra Andre / Eastern Connecticut State University

On Wednesday, November 19, two Eastern Sociology majors, Alexandra Andre and Lindsay Emblidge, held a daylong series of events on the topic of police brutality as part of their senior seminar project. The first part of the event was a speech by Professor Westberry, of the Sociology Department, on the subject of minorities and police brutality. After the speech, Lieutenant Madera from Campus Safety touched upon the Eastern Police Department’s perspective of the issue. Finally, Dr. Lugo, Department Chair for the Sociology Department, spoke about the history behind police brutality as well as the different types.

After the speeches, there was a march on campus to raise awareness on the topic of police brutality. Participants held signs with sayings such as “Police are meant to protect,” and “Minorities have rights too.”

The timing of the project was perfect in that it was held the week before Darren Wilson was announced as not being indicted for the shooting of Michael Brown. Contrary to Eastern’s typically apolitical atmosphere, there have been multiple peaceful protests on campus in wake of the recent and ongoing events of Ferguson, in addition to Andre and Emblidge’s march. One peaceful protest, which was organized by the Black Student Union, took place late on the night of the indictment; the second took place the day after and was organized by M.A.L.E.S.

“We live in the time of Twitter and Facebook. In this era of social media, events are in the spotlight for a week or two, and then people lose interest shortly after,” Emblidge stated. She continued, “We want to tell people that this is not a dying issue. It is only getting worse and we have to keep the momentum going in this social movement against police brutality to enact the changes we want to see in society.”

The panel illustrated that the killing of black males ages 18-35 by police officers is a reflection of the bigger problem of police brutality and institutional racism in the United States. One of the most important grassroots steps that need to be taken to work to solve this problem is heightened knowledge of these issues. With the presence of such politically involved students, Eastern is doing its part in raising awareness in our campus community.

“I don’t think people understand why the people in Ferguson are protesting,” stated Andre, “It’s not just about Mike Brown, it’s the overall picture.”

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