Students from Temple University caught the world’s attention yesterday when they staged peaceful ‘die-in’ protests in reaction to recent grand jury decisions not to indict two white police officers in the deaths of two black men.
Last week, a Missouri grand jury opted not to charge Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown. Two days ago, a grand jury in New York chose not to press charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner by putting him in a chokehold, a tactic banned by the New York City Police Department.
Around 200 protesters marched across Temple’s campus and gathered on Liacouras Walk, where they simultaneously dropped to the ground. They remained there, motionless, for 4.5 minutes to reflect the 4.5 hours that the body of 18-year-old Michael Brown remained on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
“I feel like this is really unjust and we need to do something about it as a whole community- not just a black community, but with Temple, too,” commented protester Kathryn Summers.
Another protester, Michael Larmond, added: “We wanted to have a lot of people see it. The presence is the point; it’s the display of the unrest and the dissatisfaction of the decision. I want my point to come across in a way that doesn’t give anyone any reason to criticise me.”
Following their demonstration on Liacouras Walk, the Temple students then marched to other parts of the campus to stage two more ‘die-ins’.
Many similar protests are being held at universities and colleges across the US, including Penn State University, Princeton University and the University of Delaware.
Additional reporting from the Associated Press.