Students, supporters say ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!’

Students participating in the "DIE IN" protest at the Student Union on Wednesday November 3, 2014. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

The chanting of “What do we want? JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!” and “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” was heard throughout the K-State Student Union to protest against police brutality on Wednesday.

Khenady Gaines, freshman in finance, said she hopes to see change.

“I’m hoping that the community can see that we are serious and we are not just trying to make a scene,” Gaines said. “We want justice and we want to be equal with everyone.”

Members of the Black Student Union and their supporters wore all black and laid on the floor of the Union for four and a half minutes to symbolize the four and a half hours that Mike Brown’s dead body laid on a Ferguson, Missouri street.

“It is my hope that the event that we did here at K-State will be the catalyst for people to start recognizing and seeing that we need serious change,” Vuna Adams III, senior in marketing, said. “The injustices that are going on are gross and egregious.”

Though many are familiar with the Mike Brown case, the protest was not just for Mike Brown. Bryon Williams, assistant director for admissions and BSU adviser, said he wants students and community members to know that when the Black Student Union is protesting it is not because of an isolated incident.

“A lot of people are looking at Michael Brown with tunnel vision,” Williams said. “The stories that we read today were very intentional to show that this is an ongoing problem.”

Justice Davis, junior in marketing and BSU president, and Williams read a list of names of African-Americans who died in police related incidents.

Williams said it doesn’t matter if you’re a black male, a black woman, you could even be a 7-year-old child, like Aiyana Jones. Jones was killed in a police raid while she was sleeping on her couch.

“We (African-Americans) are not just playing victim,” Davis said. “That means that we are not playing the race card. You can say that Michael Brown assaulted the police officer and that’s fine for your justification, but what about these other stories, these other lives that weren’t doing anything?”

Although Davis and Williams read the names of only African-Americans who lost their lives to police brutality, they said that the incidents mentioned are not just a black issue.

“I want people to realize that it’s much bigger than a black problem,” Davis said. “We have to recognize this issue and address it and demand justice for our communities and for the students at our school who have to go back to the communities that all these tragedies are taking place in.”

Davis said she hopes that people who don’t see the importance or relevance of police brutality toward African-Americans change their hearts and their perspectives about what’s going on.

“I need people to know that this is not a black issue, this is a human rights issue,” Mercedes Perry, senior in human resources and minor in American ethnic studies, said. “If your human rights were being disrespected, if your human rights were nonexistent, I would fight for yours too, so I expect the country to fight for mine.”

Perry said the demonstration was about awareness and hopes it serves as a catalyst for change.

“I just want it to cause awareness to the K-State campus because I don’t want people on our campus to think that the Ferguson decision was just,” Perry said. “So we did this demonstration and we made sure that people were aware of other lives that was lost to police brutality as well.”