Students protest Ferguson decision

On the night of Nov. 24, students gathered in the Pugh Center to watch a broadcast of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullough announcing the grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson for the death of unarmed 18 year-old Michael Brown. Many students were stunned and outraged by the verdict, and quickly planned a campus-wide event in protest.
Activists came together to spread the word about the protest. Groups like the Colby Bridge, the Oak Institute for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Colby Democrats sent email announcements to their members; Claudia Aviles ’15 sent a school-wide “Official Notice,” and Students Organized for Black and Hispanic Unity (SOBHU) sent out invitations to a Facebook event.
The next day, on Nov. 25 at 11:51, Colby students, faculty, and staff joined in Pulver and s held their hands up in silence for 10 minutes to show their solidarity with Brown’s family and his supporters in Ferguson, Missouri.
Wilson shot Brown this past August, which prompted weeks of protests in Ferguson. After waiting months for the grand jury decision, many are disappointed and angry with the choice to free Wilson from all charges.
Alexis Atkinson ’15 described her reactions from several SOBHU members: “Many of us watching slowly began to disperse in and around the Pugh Center, and that’s when certain troubling conversations began. SOBHU members, particularly our black members, started saying things like, ‘The funny thing is, I don’t feel anything because I am not surprised, no one cares about us,’ ‘The saddest thing is, I can’t do anything. There is nothing I can do,’ ‘I’m so afraid because I have a brother/cousin/friend who could have that happen to them.’”
In response to the grand jury decision, Atkinson decided to stand in protest even if that meant doing so alone. After telling other members of SOBHU of her decision, they all sprung into action. By 10:45pm that night, only an hour and a half after the decision was announced, members of SOBHU had spread the word to almost the entire campus.
President of SOBHU Tionna Haynes ’15 said, “It took me 30 seconds to process what she said and respond ‘Alexis, I’m with you!’”
Though the protest announcement was made only 12 hours before the protest itself and though many students had already left for Thanksgiving break, over 50 students and many faculty and staff members joined SOBHU in solidarity. Music and poetry expressing how the protestors felt played while they stood in silence with their hands up.
Aktinson, after the protest, reflected, “And that was all it took. One person to say they want to do something and another to be in agreement. That is what really touched me about the whole demonstration process. So often as a student I’ve heard that no real change can happen at Colby, but all it took was one student saying that something needed to be done and another to agree for the ball to start rolling.”
Local CW News covered the event and interviewed Haynes. This coverage brought the protest to the larger community outside Colby, which was one of the goals of the protest.
Members of the Colby community were inspired by the support they saw for Michael Brown and his family. Haynes stated, “Of course people could have been there for different reasons with varying degrees of connections to Mike Brown and the underlying issues concerning Ferguson, but in that moment, seeing my fellow Mules stand with me about something that is important to me made me feel strongly connected to this community.”
Days after charges were dropped, Officer Wilson handed in his letter of resignation from the Ferguson police.brown