BC Students Protest Ferguson Ruling On Campus

Updated Nov. 25, 2:08 AM: Dozens of Boston College students—including many members of the Black Student Forum—marched across campus Monday night, and gathered in front of Boston College Police Department headquarters to protest the grand jury decision tonight not to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.

Protesters agreed to gather outside Corcoran Commons at 10:45 p.m. after receiving news of the verdict from Ferguson. The group’s organizers contacted friends via text message and social media to gather, choosing the 10:45 meeting time to symbolize the four and a half hours Ferguson teen Michael Brown’s body lay in the street.

As the group moved from Lower Campus to O’Neill Library, its numbers grew. The protesters eventually made their way from McElroy Commons, through the Quad, and down the Million Dollar Stairs to ultimately settle in front of the BCPD headquarters just before midnight.

BC students protesting tonight’s grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.

A video posted by The Heights (@bcheights) on

More video of BC students protesting tonight’s Ferguson decision. A video posted by The Heights (@bcheights) on

 

There, leaders of the protest—among them, Black Student Forum general member Lakeisha St. Joy, A&S ’15—spoke out against the injustice they believed occurred through the federal grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson over the shooting of Brown on Aug. 9.

“Tonight we are not discriminating just because it’s BCPD, because all police is the same police, amen,” St. Joy told the group that had gathered. “The duty of the police is to protect and serve.”

BCPD declined to comment, and University Spokesman Jack Dunn was unavailable for comment late Monday night.

University police officers slowly followed the group of protesters as they moved across campus, and stood off to the side of the cluster of protesters on Campanella Way. A BCPD vehicle was also stationed in O’Neill Plaza.

 

BC students in front of BCPD. A video posted by The Heights (@bcheights) on

 

Some students wore t-shirts with the phrase “Black Lives Matter”—widely adopted by Ferguson protesters across the country tonight—and carried signs with the slogans that they chanted. Speakers also encouraged others to wear all black on Tuesday and attend a protest scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in front of Boston Police Department (BPD) Headquarters in Roxbury.

“All the chants we’re saying are something from the past, this is nothing new,” St. Joy said.

Quoting Assata Shakur—a black activist, escaped convicted murderer, and member of the Black Panther Party from the 1970s—protesters chanted, “It is our duty to fight. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

“The only thing we should be fighting for is happiness, not fighting for our lives, not fighting not to be killed,” said Jasmine Jemeison, A&S ’15, one of the students who organized the protest.

St. Joy described how the protest formed spontaneously as the night progressed, and indicated that it was not the result of strategic planning.

After leaving the Multicultural Christian Fellowship Thanksgiving dinner, St. Joy said she and several others heard the verdict and decided to go to BCPD headquarters to voice their concern.

“I asked them, ‘What is your duty? What is your purpose? What is your duty? Do you feel like you’re dutifully committing your duty? Because I don’t think so,’” St. Joy said.

She also said that no other formal events were planned at the time, aside from encouraging people to attend the protest at BPD headquarters.

“The goal of tonight is to verbally express our anger and our feelings of the black community, not only the black community, but all those who feel in solidarity with us,” St. Joy said. “The goal of tonight is to express how we’re feeling, to let go of the anger and frustration, the natural and justified frustration of tonight. The goal of tonight is to take a step forward, to let the world and BC’s campus know that more is coming. This is not it, this is merely just a first step.”

Protesters expressed concern that some people on BC’s campus do not think the events in Ferguson are their issue, believing that they are protected by attending BC.

“All of what you see tonight is people seeing something that they believe in and joining in,” St. Joy said. “There was no strategic planning, it was just people—angry and ready to express how they feel on campus—because that is our First Amendment right and a college campus was where protest riots were conceived. BC is lacking that and tonight we’re bringing it back.”

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor. Videos provided by Mike Keefe and Abby Sirus.

About Julie Orenstein 47 Articles
Julie Orenstein was a Heights editor for three long years that still somehow went by too quickly. She can be found singing in inopportune places, playing sports badly, eating grilled cheese, or just talking at anything that will listen.
  • JT

    Seeing this makes me ashamed to have graduated from BC last year.

    First, the videos of people yelling “no justice, no peace,” is very troublesome. This kind of mob mentality is what is leading to so much civil disorder and anarchy in Ferguson. I’m not saying that the US does not have a race problem, or even a police brutality problem- because we do. I am saying that the fact that a group of college kids can protest so ignorantly is startling. The jury made its decision, just because you don’t agree with it, does not mean they were wrong. These group of students clearly were not as informed as the jury, and yet they believe the ruling was misguided? How does that work.

    From the facts that we do have, the police officer in question was charged by the perpetrator, who had just come from a robbing. The perpetrator tried to get into the car! Certainly nobody deserves to die, but why are we protesting about this? There are many other cases that would be more applicable to the question of police brutality or race. This case is a symptom of mob mentality and the media spinning people into an uproar.

    I can’t take protesters of this case seriously, because many of these people are grossly uninformed. Let the jury do their job, and don’t take the law into your own hands. We have problems in this nation. Reactions like this only serve to exacerbate them.

    • Johnny Tsunami

      I’m sorry that you feel more informed than other people and that your response is the right one. Unfortunately it will never be established what happened between the teenager and the police officer because there will be no trial for the facts.

      • JT

        On the contrary, that’s not what I think at all. I think it’s clear that I don’t have all the facts, considering I’m a native of CT and wasn’t an eyewitness. I do disagree with your assessment, though. There are thousands of pages of evidence and perspective given to the jury. We may never know exactly what happened but we can get a pretty clear idea of it. The jury didn’t make a prejudiced decision, they analyzed the facts and decided not to charge the officer. Our justice system worked. If the perpetrator’s family would like to file a civil case, that’s another matter entirely.

        Regardless of who is right, I was simply advocating against this sort of reckless, ignorant protest. Look what is going on in Ferguson as a result of this ruling? Guilty or innocent, that is wrong.

        • Johnny Tsunami

          Of course it isn’t and of course you do and of course you were. Im sorry that you cannot grieve that a person died and sorry that you cannot find solidarity with a group of people who feel and who know that they are undervalued in their own society.

          • JT

            Again your comment is a case of jumping the gun and putting words in my mouth. I said before and I will say it again, nobody deserves to die. Its unfortunate that a life was lost in this situation. However, the perpetrator in question had previously robbed a store, his blood was found in the police car, he allegedly had gone for the officer’s gun. This still does not justify death in this instance, but this man was not the saint many are making him out to be. He attacked a police officer, or at least, all of the evidence points towards that. Again, so that you don’t misconstrue what I am saying, that doesn’t mean he deserved to die.

            As far as a group of people who feel they are undervalued, that is an entirely separate issue. Do I feel for people who are unjustifiable stereotyped? Yes. The issue is very complex and I would likely take some hate for expanding on this any further, but how is the answer to feeling undervalued torching small businesses, shooting at police, looting, and stealing?

          • Quizzical_Moose

            If he had attacked the officer and had killed him, this wouldn’t have made national news. I wonder why?

  • Anon9

    “I asked them, ‘What is your duty? What is your purpose? What is your duty? Do you feel like you’re dutifully committing your duty? Because I don’t think so,’” St. Joy said.

    This harassment of Boston College Police demonstrates how this protest crossed the lines of contradiction. To ask such a question to BCPD officers – GIVEN that I have no knowledge of any Boston College Police officer who has fatally wounded an unarmed civilian – is merely the protestors employing the exact SAME methodology that they are opposing in their protests. They are protesting the devaluing of black lives by police officers; and on a wider note, the purported widespread racism among police officers who think that all black persons are criminals. This protest argues that “all police officers are the same,” thus contradicting their own message of anti-discrimination. I know that some may oppose this argument by themselves arguing that they are simply playing on the level terms of those discriminatory police officers. If they do this, however, they are not protesting for change, but only protesting for the sake of protest.

    To protest police officers and stations does nothing to solve the widespread issue of police brutality that affects ALL races in this country. The solution is not by voicing your opinion to the police officers. This can’t solve 100% of the problem. This will never get justice. Justice can only be achieved through the law. Students should instead constructively support actions by groups such as the ACLU, who are fighting for change to these laws at the legislative level, fighting for body cameras on all police officers, etc. That is the only way to get justice.

    • JT

      100% agreed, very articulately stated.

  • Teighlor Baker

    So Far I am so ashamed to see the BC community react to the peaceful protest in this way. I attended the protest last night, not only to voice my concerns, but to watch. What I saw was this: not a group of Boston College Students attempting to raise a mob or anything of the sort, but a group of students who are truly outraged by the number of unarmed black teenagers who are shot by white cops with little to no repercussions. I can see that evidence may point towards the fact that Officer Darren Wilson simply did his job (He might have!), but please understand that a PEACEFUL protest such as this one is meant to address the bigger picture. Many of us have lost family and friends in incidents such as this, or at the very least know people who have. This is a serious issue in the black community and we expressed our anger last night. Some may be especially angry about this case in particular, but from being there last night I can tell you that everyone is angry about the fact that this case does not stand alone. Peaceful protests are one of the best and safest ways that we can share our opinions so that people will actually listen to us. You do not have to identify with African Americans to understand what we are fighting for. I think what was most sad was the lack of empathy from a lot of the BC students. One girl said, “If you do not like the way justice is carried out, then don’t live in America.” If you do not find that statement ten times more ignorant than any part of the protest, then I am truly confused. If we don’t agree with the outcomes of the justice system, we should just forget about it? I’d love for her to put herself in the shoes of the parents who have lost their children in incidences like this one. It is not easy to lose a son, a daughter, a mother, a father… it is difficult to lose loved ones. I challenge the Boston College community to take their minds off of Rubinoff and J. Crew for a while to consider how this issue actually affects others. While you may not wake up and consider how your race will affect you on a day to day basis, people like myself (half nigerian, half white) still suffer being called a “nigger” and being spat at as I cross the street. And finally consider this, because this issue is “not about race” to many people I will share with you that in the middle of the peaceful protest a young Caucasian Boston College student attempted to stop the march. You know what he screamed at us? “White people are just better than black people.” I’ll leave you with that, Boston College.

    • JT

      Let me ask you this, what about the astronomically large amount of Black Americans who are shot by other Black Americans? Or the white police officers who shoot White Americans? Where were you during the summer when Chicago’s Black on Black crime exploded?

      Crime is crime. Shootings of any kind are deplorable. Do Black Americans get stereotyped? I think statistics would say overwhelmingly yes. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed, amongst many other problems facing an underprivileged and statistically marginalized community. How many black teens are shot by white cops? Can you provide a statistic? Furthermore, this gentleman robbed a store and refused a director order to get on the sidewalk, and then attacked an officer. Why are we challenging any outrage through this case? I agree this is a serious issue facing the black community, but its part of a much larger picture.

      Peaceful protest are our right as Americans. You can do whatever you want as long as its peaceful. At BC, the protests were. My comment was that people seem uninformed at best. In Ferguson, the protests are deplorable.

      I empathize with the black community, but I am not black, so there is an element of ignorance on my part. I don’t know what its like and I freely admit that. As an outside observer though, the struggle against stereotype is best fought with education and life. If you want to succeed in your struggle, the community must first look from within and shed elements of “snitches get stitches” and a mistrust of police. That of course, would go hand in hand with a police force that more accurately reflects the citizens it serves.

      I’ll close with this. Racism anywhere, is ignorant and reprehensible. If that happened to you at BC, then I am ashamed that BC let someone as backward as that into the school. This particular crime though, and thats what it was, a crime, is not a race issue. The perpetrator was shot because he robbed a store, ignored an officer’s order, tried to break into his car, and allegedly charged him. Nobody deserves to die. In this nation, you are innocent until you are proven guilty but you also have to be smart. Charging an armed police officer or robbing a store for cigarettes is not okay.

      The issue of Black American stereotyping is too important to get pulled into this media firestorm.

    • Teighlor Baker

      Actually, the amount of ignorance on your behalf is clear. I will address your questions in the order that you asked them.

      In terms of the “black on black” violence, that is something many people in the black community, myself included have been working to reduce (and eventually abolish) for years. I am still working. When the black on black violence in Chicago exploded, that summer I took to blogs and radio stations begging for it to end, and working to find out how that can be done. White police officers who shoot white americans… Please give me statistics for that. I’ll give you my statistics while I wait.. black people are 21 times more likely to be shot than whites are. (See:http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/10/10/3578877/black-teens-were-21-times-more-likely-to-be-shot-dead-by-the-cops-reported-deaths-suggest/) To add to that, many crimes such as this go unrecorded. Many websites have been working to compile all cases like this in order to come up with even more accurate statistics. I will keep my eye out for you.

      It is still not clear whether or not Michael Brown actually attacked Wilson. Almost none of the details of the case are clear as a matter of fact. You are choosing the view you want to choose. That is fine. I have been keeping a very close eye on all of the evidence that has been released, and it is apparent that this issue (and it’s evidence) lay greatly in a grey area. Like I said though, you and everyone else needs to look past this one incident. People are outraged because this issue has been plaguing our community for such a long time, not because this one Officer was not indicted.

      The students who protested at BC did everything right. They remained peaceful and respectful while expressing their opinions. I do work to improve the black community and the BC community. I work very hard actually. But what is difficult to work against is the shocking number of “backward” people that exist not only in the BC community, but in this country in general. We are angry and we are tired. Although this case is upsetting to many, we are all fighting for the bigger picture. I think the key is to limit the amount of power police officers have with their weapons as well as documenting their actions more closely. They should be wearing cameras at all times if they are allowed to point their weapons at whatever they deem a “threat”.

      I will continue to take action to fix the issues in my community. I hope you do the same for the epidemic of white cops killing white unarmed Americans that you clearly think is comparable to what the black community is experiencing.

      • JT

        Apologies for the late response, friend, I think you meant to post this as a comment in reply to me. If not, please ignore!

        I did try and say that I clearly will not have a first hand perspective of this at all. That does not make what I have to say any less valid, but it informs my understanding in a different way. For that, I apologize, but I am not going to pretend to understand what Black Americans have to go through on a day to day basis, because I don’t.

        I am heartened that you spoke out so fervently and articulately against the violence in Chicago. I think I actually did the entire conversation a disservice when I labeled it “black on black” violence. Race shouldn’t matter in this instance, violence is violence. Sorry about that. Actually, in this instance, the burden of proof is on the affirmative. I challenged you to give me statistics of white officers shooting black teens. Besides a few high profile cases, you have not. I can point towards statistics showing police gun usage though, let me know. Its rather high across the board, which is endemic of a much larger problem related to police brutality, gun culture, and stratified socioeconomic conditions. Yes, it is true black teens are significantly more likely to get shot than white people, but the problem is not officers picking them off. The violence has a lot to do with the three factors I listed above. All of which, I feel are unacceptable! I want to do something about this problem too. We are all Americans and we are all entitled to a safe, prosperous life.

        See, here is where I’ll respectfully disagree. We may not have all of the facts, and we likely never will, but his blood is confirmed to be in the police officer’s car. May eyewitnesses have stated what they saw, and it’s damning. Brown was not shot in the back, he was likely charging. I still don’t believe anyone ever deserves to die. I’m not choosing to look at things from a specific side! I’m just looking at the facts as we know them. If something else comes to light that clears Brown, I will be the first to speak up on his behalf. Right now, we know he robbed a store, disobeyed an officer, and attacked him. Come on.

        This is an issue, yes. But please, send me stats of this “epidemic.” I know for a fact that there are stats out there saying black americans are more likely to be arrested or stereotyped, thats a sobering and awful fact. This is clearly an issue but why not look from within to change while still trying to make inroads in the establishment?

        I’m sure they did, I wasn’t there. From the videos and photos I saw though, it seemed like there was a ton of misinformation and ignorance there. I never experienced any racism during my time at BC, and neither did my friends. (Mixed races) Thats not to say it never occurred. It’s absolutely unacceptable and should be dealt with swiftly and harshly, whenever it does. I agree with you about the police force. Thats a huge issue though, I don’t believe the police should receive our outdated military equipment, I believe they should have cameras on, and I believe they should be held accountable, the way this officer was. The jury found no reason to charge him.

        Good, and I will do the same, in whatever way I can. I think you are stereotyping and generalizing a bit on the whole “white cops killing unarmed Americans” bit, but I will meet you half way on one point: If someone is truly unarmed and non threatening, and a cop shoots him, that is unacceptable, whether it happens once or is an epidemic. Thats not what happened here.

      • Teighlor Baker

        Friend, I would not argue that your conclusions are less valid than my own. I would say that my understanding is from a black perspective while yours is from a white perspective. In this case I am discussing something that is an issue in the black community, and that is where our perspectives become relevant. However that is beside the point. I will say that I think the ballistic evidence shows that Michael Brown and Officer Wilson struggled in the car, not that Brown attacked him. I don’t think it is clear to make that assumption. While it is true that he was not shot in the back, I think that his bullet wounds are consistent with his hands being raised in a non aggressive way. Evidence will always be up for individual interpretation that is why I think it is more productive to leave this particular case alone. It seems that you respect my opinions and I will extend the same courtesy.

        As I said before, statistics on white cops shooting unarmed black teens are difficult to find. Many websites will give you many different stats, but I think that is attributed to the fact that no institution records incidences based on the races of those involved. (This is a very specific stat…) You have admitted however, that black teens are more likely to be arrested and/or stereotyped. I have two questions concerning that. 1. Why do you think that is? 2. Do you truly believe that no violence occurs as a result of officers stereotyping blacks?

        The system is very corrupt. Many cops will tell you so themselves. I think race has been and will be an issue for a long time, however I’ve noticed that people try to remove it from the conversation. Race is a factor that shouldn’t be ignored because it is something that affects many of us on a day to day basis. (I wish I could say that Boston College is an exception, but I have experienced racism more than a couple of times since I began my academic career here.) I do wonder however what you mean by “look from within to change”. Surely you cannot be suggesting that the stereotyping black people experience by police or anyone else is brought about by their own actions or state of being? If you are (although I don’t think you are) I see as more of a testament to white privilege than anything. This issue is complex, but all I ask is that people of all colors put themselves in the shoes of another race to consider why it is that we think, act, and speak the way we do.

  • MJ

    “do you feel like you’re dutifully committing your duty?” uhhh what?

  • MJ

    It’s completely inappropriate and disrespectful to voice your anger at BCPD who had absolutely nothing to do with the case or the decision. Grow up and stop trying to find something to be outraged about. BCPD officers have done nothing but their job to protect the campus, and this is absolutely obnoxious.

    • Johnny Tsunami

      I think it was great how BCPD handled themselves and allowed students to voice their dissatisfaction with the American legal system publicly without resorting to force.

  • Quizzical_Moose

    It’s pathetic to see how much people are affected by what the media spins at them. If you’re not with the mob, then you’re instantly labeled an ignorant racist. Would the protesters be wiser in protesting against the looters in Ferguson who are taking advantage of the death of a child to rampage, destroy small businesses, and take whatever they want? Tell me, where is the justice for all those store owners who literally had nothing to do with what happened to the large teen who died? Honestly if people are going to act like thieves, disrespecting the life of the person they demand justice for, they ought to be looked down upon and brought to justice themselves.

  • Shanahan

    Michael Brown was a thug who thought he could do whatever he wanted. Wrong. Yet people eulogize him, while forgetting military members and the sacrifices they make for the people of this country.