ATHENS, GA- Around 100 people at The University of Georgia “died” for 4 1/2 minutes last night. It was all in protest of last week’s Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown. “Die-ins” like this have happened in Boston, Washington D.C., Baton Rogue and other parts of the country in the wake of the decision a few weeks ago.
Protestors lay on the ground, motionless for four and a half minutes to signify the four hours Brown’s body lay in the street after Wilson shot him to death. The staging marked the end of the Ferguson rally put on by the NAACP UGA chapter and an organization called “Athens for Everyone”.
Women’s studies instructor Blaise Parker’s sign stands out in the crowd – “if it was me, there would have been justice”.
“I’m really invested in the continued issue of race that the country hasn’t really delved into. Showing up is a way to support an issue I care about deeply,” Parker said.
She struggles to find the right words to describe how she felt about the grand jury’s decision. “I don’t want to say ‘angry’. But, no, that’s exactly how I feel. It’s incredibly frustrating.”
“It’s not even about the truth of the situation,” Parker explains. She doesn’t know if Wilson’s actions were justified or not. She says now she’ll never know – “it’s the lack of a public trial. Having a public trial is important.” Her words echoed many throughout the country. Even though the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson on criminal charges, she hopes Brown’s family might be able to succeed in pressing civil charges.
Even though Wilson wasn’t indicted, students like Brittany McLeod still have strong feelings about the entire situation. She says it’s all too commonplace to see white officers like Wilson “get away” with killing blacks.
“It’s become an institutionalized thing for cops to kill black people in America…It’s not okay. It’s murder,” she said. McLeod cites the deaths of New York man Eric Garner, who died in a chokehold by police officers and the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
“One is too many, but it’s repeated.”
Bradford Porter said it’s hard because he can see himself in Brown.
“It’s scary turning on the TV to see someone who fits your description being killed by a cop,” said Porter.
Right now, all the friends can do is lie there together, solemnly and silently in protest.