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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Student march raises awareness for racial injustice

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In a walk-out demonstration to raise awareness of racial injustices, students gathered in Rudder Plaza Thursday afternoon.
The demonstration, which was organized by the NAACP in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate organizations, included a march from the Commons to Rudder Plaza and a period during which demonstrators laid motionless to symbolically represent people who have died due to police violence.
Christal-Joy Turner, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said the event was meant to bring people together from different racial backgrounds.
“It was to bring awareness of a lot things things that have been happening in society and the world,” Turner said. “We have the Mike Brown situation, you have Eric Garner. This was to bring everyone together and say, ‘You know what? We’re going to take a stance on this.’”
Turner said the demonstration was intended to address the deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner, who was killed by a white police officer in New York, as well as broader systemic problems.
“It was to open everyone’s mind up,” Turner said. “This is more than just one event about Mike Brown, its not just about Eric Garner, this is about everybody, because the person who got killed could have been your brother, could have been your dad, your mom, it could have been anybody. We want everyone to see the bigger picture.”
For those who participated in, saw or heard about the demonstration, Turner said she hopes they take away the idea that not every protest has to be violent.
“I want people to realize this about riots, I think in some cases they are necessary, but I believe that you can get a lot of stuff accomplished while being peaceful,” Turner said.
Can DeLeon of Friends Congregational Church said he showed up to help provide a church presence.
“Systemic injustice is very hard to tackle and marches like this and moments like this raise awareness about it so that it can change,” DeLeon said. “I wanted to be a part of that so that we realize this is not something that is isolated to Ferguson or New York. It’s systemic injustice. When we own that and realize that we can realize justice for everybody.”
For Derrik Pugh, construction management graduate student, the issue is not about race, but is a matter of standing up for right versus wrong.
“If you kill someone in this country, you should go through due process,” Pugh said.
Charrel Moore, community health sophomore, said people, not just African Americans, need to stand in solidarity against racial injustices.
“The cases here in the U.S. with Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and so many more,” Moore said. “It’s just like I wanted to be part of the change, I wanted to make sure that I was here standing in solidarity. I can’t go to New York, I can’t go to these protests with them, but I can here on my campus, Texas A&M, and affect change.”
Rashad Bailey, biological and agricultural engineering graduate student, spoke about the recent riots in Ferguson as a result of the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the Missouri police officer who killed Michael Brown.
“I went to University of Missouri for my undergrad and I am going to grad school here,” Bailey said. “The deal with the Michael Brown one — it’s really close because I know a lot of people out there and I personally have been stopped by dirty cops in St. Louis multiple times, so it really hits home for me.”
Bailey compared the protests that broke out after the grand jury decision to a lit match in a wildlife preserve.
“A good analogy would be that if someone threw a cigarette into a wildlife preservation,” Bailey said. “It will lay there and smoulder for a little while but then eventually it will catch a spark and turn into a wildfire.”
Moore said participating in a demonstration is not something she saw herself doing when she began college in part because she felt that as a student preparing for medical school, she had no place among activists.
“I’ve experienced different racial incidents since I’ve been a student at Texas A&M,” Moore said. “I’ve never said anything. I’ve never said anything, I’ve kept my mouth shut, because I felt that I didn’t want to be that black person that causes this uproar, because I’m here, I’m getting my education, and I can have change later.”
Echoing the sentiment of many at the demonstration, Moore said the recent events have highlighted a more prevalent problem.
“One day I was walking down Northgate to go to McDonalds, just to get something to eat. I had on A&M apparel and a car rolls down the window and said, ‘Back to the cotton field,’” Moore said. “I know that a lot of my friends have been followed. We’ve been asked if we go here. A lot of people just assume that we go to Blinn, not that there’s nothing wrong with Blinn, but its automatically assumed that we go to Blinn or we’re just touring. No one believes that we go here.”
Moore said these experiences as well as others led her to partake in the demonstrations.
“You see a man being choked to death and nothing is being done about that? We have to stop it,” Moore said. “I can’t let the racial slurs go unnoticed. I have to be a part of the action for the change.”
La-Twanice Walker, health senior, said she would have liked to see people at the demonstration who are more widely known on campus.
“They don’t know us — a lot of people don’t even think we go to school here,” Walker said. “If we had athletes here it would have been more powerful seeing them walk in because then all those white people who are looking at us like we’re crazy will be like, ‘Oh snap this is something powerful.’”
Caroline Elvig, history freshman and bystander at the event, said it’s important for people, especially students, to understand there are two sides to every issue.
“I think that people should be open to what people are trying to get out and what people are trying to educate themselves about,” Elvig said. “A lot of people have already decided what side they’re on and I think that a lot of times it’s important to be educated about both sides of things, and coming to things like this whether you agree or disagree is really important to see progress.”

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