Students from the Black Cultural Center marched from the lobby of the Roaden University Center to the sidewalk in front of the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library where they held a “die-in.” The “die-in,” as opposed to a sit-in, had the students lay on the ground for almost 11 minutes.
The purpose of the demonstration was to bring awareness of the effects of the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two black men who were killed last year by police officers, according to event coordinator Shabir Bhegani.
“To me, silence sometimes can mean allegiance,” Bhegani said. “I wanted to make sure we did something to show that we didn’t agree with it.”
After four minutes of silence, Bhegani stood and delivered a speech. In his speech Bhegani called for justice across the country and quoted Martin Luther King Jr. by saying “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” After his speech Bhegani lay back down with the other participants for another seven minutes.
According to Bhegani, the first four minutes were for the four hours Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after he was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The remaining seven minutes, to make the entire protest last 11 minutes, represented the amount of time Eric Garner said he couldn’t breathe to New York City police as he was fatally choked to death.
“I think it at least started to show its purpose well. It was a good starting point,” said Josh Bruce, senior civil engineering major. “People saw it, I hope they stuck around to catch the point they were trying to make.”
Bhegani said the group’s goal was met and it plans to host an open forum later this month. The demonstration brought 30-40 students’ participation with about 20 onlookers.