Cold weather fails to stop message of peace and equality

Egypt Edwards, junior in horticulture, stands with Cassondra Smith, junior in animal science, during the peaceful protest in spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. The event took place on Dec. 10 in Triangle Park.

A little girl, bundled in a pink coat, huddled next to her father for warmth as he held up a protest sign in Triangle Park Wednesday night.

Men, women and children took to the streets, protesting recent deaths of unarmed African-Americans by police. The demonstration took place exactly one week after a grand jury declined to indict a New York City officer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the death of Eric Garner.

Following a week of protests and remembrances organized by the Black Student Union, Wednesday night’s demonstration was organized by Manhattan’s faith-based community. Protesters stood at the side of the road and in the medians in the middle of Anderson Avenue in order to spread their message.

Sarah Siders, of Manhattan, said she organized the event because she could not remain quiet on the issue.

“I’ve got to go and do something here,” Siders said. “I’ve got to be part of the solution.”

Once word got out about it, Siders said she found numerous people willing to help and participate.

“There were just a lot of open doors,” Siders said. “All of a sudden, the (First Congregational United Church of Christ) pastor connected me to someone on the radio and then the Black Student Union president. It just came together. People wanted to do it.”

Siders said the protest was meant to be a show of solidarity.

“The big message is that we, as a community, are not going to do business as usual when there is oppression,” Siders said.

Gabriel White, of Manhattan, stood on the median, holding up a sign as vehicles sped by. According to White, it was important for the message to be seen.

“We all see what’s happening and we can’t carry on with life as usual,” White said.

Linda James, of Manhattan, stood with White in the median, helping hold up a large sign. She said she stood in the middle of traffic because she wanted to do her part.

“I just want to make the world a better place for all people,” James said.

The protest also coincided with International Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first document outlining the basic rights of every person in the world. The document was signed by member countries of the United Nations in 1948, a few years after the atrocities of World War II.

To Sliders, human rights should matter to everyone.

“I want people to be aware,” Sliders said. “I want them to make equality our goal.”