GENESEO – SUNY Geneseo’s campus thundered to chants of “Black lives matter” and “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” as hundreds of students put on hats and gloves to march on campus for three hours on Friday, holding signs that said “Justice is as deaf as it is blind” and “Stop police brutality.”
Leaders of the many student clubs and organizations that got together to plan and launch the rally via social media say they have reached out to other organizations in Livingston County, and plan to get other SUNY schools to pitch in on the protest as well.
“We met to plan this at about 9 p.m. last night,” said Michael Carlin, 18, a leader of Peace Action Geneseo on campus. “We were expecting about 25 people. All I know is, when we ended on the College Green, we had what looked like 200 people.”
In fact, more than 300 people joined in the rally, which by its peak completely encircled the wide College Green with protesters. Students said that they are not only protesting the non-indictments of the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City, but deeper problems they see in the justice system. The students staged a die-in, where they all lay down silently, as if dead, for 4 minutes and 30 seconds, which they say represents the 4 hours and 30 minutes that Michael Brown’s body lay after his death.
“Yes, we are protesting the non-indictments of the murderers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner,” said Sean Neil, 21, a member of the Genesee Valley Housing Cooperative. “But we are also saying that these were not isolated incidents. Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by the police. We are protesting the targeting of communities of color by the police.”
More than a dozen campus organizations helped organize this protest and are meeting to plan more, including the Black Student Union (BSU), Students Against Social Injustice (SASI), Zeta Phi Beta, Latino Student Association (LSA), Partners in Health, Women’s Action Coalition (WAC), Democracy Matters, Geneseo Pride Alliance, Peace Action Geneseo, Community Health Alliance, Genesee Valley Cooperative, Geneseo Environmental Organization (GEO), and Gamma Chi Epsilon.
Carlin added that their organizations have been reaching out to everyone they know over Facebook, and started the page Geneseo Die-In for Justice, which now has 293 members and growing. Carlin added that they have also reached out to the Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace, and will continue to stage rallies and protests, and get other SUNY schools to stage demonstrations as well. They are posting photos and tweets to several hashtags, including #geneseocantbreathe and #blacklivesmatter.
PHOTO CAPTION: Photos by Conrad Baker and Victoria DuBon.
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