Last night, more than 500 Richmonders–mostly young, but diverse–gathered in an unplanned rally in reaction to a Missouri grand jury’s unanimous decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed 18 year old.
This rally and march, which started on VCU campus and ended at the RPD HQ, was in solidarity with the protests in Ferguson, NYC, Chicago, and more than 100 other events across the country in responding to the non-indictment.
Last night I participated in a protest put together by the students at my school and it was one of the most beautiful things I have done with my life to date. To see so many people gathered together of different gender and race really reiterated the fact that this is not a black issue, a white issue, a gay issue, a straight issue, or a religious issue, this is a HUMAN rights issue, and it is going to take everyone working together to fix it, not just the black community. Be the change you want to see in the world, it starts with us. #VCU #Ferguson #Justice4MikeBrown
The nation has been alight with debate since the August 9th shooting, discussions spanning from police brutality to institutional racism to unchecked police misconduct–all colored by a nauseatingly familiar context: another young black man has been killed by a white cop and that cop has not yet faced any consequences. Yesterday that debate hit a tipping point and the nation reacted.
Still a teenager, Brown was shot 6 times–twice in the head–and left limp and lifeless upon the asphalt for 4 hours for the world and media to see before his corpse was finally haphazardly covered and carried away.
Police became involved after a 911 call was made accusing Brown of robbing a man at gunpoint. After the death of Brown, neighborhood residents gathered to film the cops for accountability but were met with hostility and tear gas. Protests ensued in Ferguson, many of which were met with additional tear gas; videos from all of these events have gone viral and can be found on YouTube.
Footage of Brown allegedly robbing the connivence store can be seen here:
The protests in Richmond last night remained entirely peaceful, with protestors rallying and marching down Broad and Franklin Streets to chants of “Hands Up Don’t Shoot!”, “No Justice No Peace!”, and “Black Lives Matter!”
The flashing blue lights of RPD arrived and followed the march but maintained a distance.
At the final stop of the march, the RPD headquarters protesters held a moment of silence for Brown, Trayvon Martin, and other young black men killed by police.The sea of protesters silently and solemnly raised their fists in solidarity with one another, to other protestors across the nation.
Richmond’s protest evolved in stark contrast to parallel events in Ferguson and Oakland, where some of the individuals embedded in the protests began looting buildings and burning police cars, or in NYC where a mass of protesters shut down the Brooklyn Bridge.
Today, at 4:30 in front off the John Marshall Courthouse, Richmonders will gather again in another event addressing the Ferguson Decision. Although a final decision has been made in Ferguson it’s clear that a critical mass of dissent has been reached nationwide and members of the public are ready to respond, but the the more integral question is how will they?
Top image via wayneswandering