Between the ten short minutes students are given to get from one class to the next, often times this period consists of dapping up friends you don’t see often, scrambling to cite your sources for an essay due, or catching up on that album you wanted to listen to since last night.
This afternoon [October 5th, 2016], walking to class was surely a different experience for Syracuse University students. Starting at 12:30 P.M., about 200 bodies laid down on the school’s new $6 million dollar promenade, seemingly lifeless.
This die-in was a powerful, student-organized visual demonstration in response to police brutality.
Various components of the die-in were carefully calculated for this demonstration. The preceding night, students took to social media, mainly Instagram, the hashtag “#BlackOutWednesday” to raise awareness for the forthcoming event. Students were encouraged to wear all-black attire. A large banner reading: “201. HOW MANY MORE?” was used in order to exhibit the names of 201 bodies that were taken due to unjust police brutality cases. Students wore signs across their chests that either read the reason someone has been killed by the police, or the name and age of somebody who had been killed. “I was shot by holding a BB gun” and “I was murdered after a routine traffic stop” were a few of the numerous reasons that were printed and accounted for. The names written on the signs included Trayvon Martin, Korryn Gaines, Philando Castile and unfortunately many more.
The students laid on the ground for ten minutes. This time was allocated to represent how only ten of the 102 cases presented in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in the shooter being charged with a crime.
A witness, who wished to remain nameless, shared what it felt like to watch such a demonstration. “Part of me wanted to lay on the ground with them, and a part of me was just too shocked to do anything but watch. These past months have been saddening, of course, but it really hits you when you see your own peers fighting for this. Watching them, I fully realized next time it could be one of my friends who falls victim to the brutality. The energy was intense.”
Syracuse University students are no strangers to campus protests, especially in response to police brutality and racial injustice. SU students have organized campus marches, protests and demonstrations immediately following the unjust deaths of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and many more. Each protest showcases the passion and awareness the SU students exude for the cause. Furthermore, each protest is notably respectful and never resulted in cases of disorderly misconduct.
With fists in the air, the students who were previously laying on the ground powerfully marched down the promenade, singing “Wade In The Water” to end the moving experience.