UTM students gathered in front of the Davis Building for a rally last Wednesday in support of Michael Brown and other victims of police brutality.
Brown was a black teenager who was shot and killed while unarmed by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. The controversial circumstances in which he was killed and the resulting civil disobedience have caused outrage both in the U.S. and in Canada.
“I’m a fourth-year student and this is the first time I’ve seen something like this,” said Lakeisha Ferreira, who was satisfied with the event’s turnout.
Approximately 200 students attended the walkout, according to UTMSU VP equity Melissa Theodore.
Theodore spoke about the reason UTMSU held the rally. “We thought it was imperative that we stood or walked in solidarity with Mike Brown, his family, and his community in Ferguson against anti-black racism, police brutality, and the militarization of police,” she said.
Asked why she felt that Wilson should be immediately arrested—instead of relying on the American justice system—Theodore said, “This was a murder. Brown was unarmed; he was not a threat. Brown was shot at least six times. Being black is not a crime.
“Wilson is being protected by the justice system,” she continued. “In a town hall held on Tuesday night in Ferguson, it was confirmed that he is still getting paid and will be paid indefinitely. They are also paying extra security guards to protect him. Once again, institutionalized racism reigns.”
There were a number of motivational speakers at the event, including a local candidate for city council in Ward 8. One student gave a spoken word performance. The students then went on a march around campus chanting, “No justice, no peace!” and the now famous chant “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
Theodore also said that the chief of the Ferguson Police Force should be fired because in response to public demands for an apology and Wilson’s arrest, “[The protestors] were met with tanks, rubber bullets, and tear gas.”
UTM Campus Police Service manager Robert Messacar said, “I think it’s great when students get involved in something they believe in.” He could not comment on the shooting because the investigation is ongoing, but added, “I believe that anytime there is a police shooting there should be a completely independent investigation, such as we have here with the Special Investigations Unit. I do not, however, know what processes they have in Missouri.”
“I was kind of ignorant of the whole situation,” said student Tiara Carrero. “But after hearing the speeches of those directly and indirectly affected by the problem, and attending the rally, I was inspired.”
The rally was held as part of the Hands Up Walk Out movement, which has the same aims. It was endorsed by a number of UTM clubs and societies.