Demonstrations arise after Roxy’s wristband deemed “offensive”

The wristband given out Thursday evening said “hands up, pants up.”
MU students from the Legion of Black Collegians and the Black Culture Center protest against racial inequality and police brutality Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 at the intersection of E Broadway and Hitt St. The protestors demonstrate by chanting, locking arms and blocking the street to help bring awareness to their cause.

The night began at 9:00 p.m. with embraces in Speakers Circle among the 20 student protesters gathered there, ready to march into downtown.

Within the hour, the protesters, chanting "Black lives matter," "hands up, don't shoot" and "we've got to fight back," entered the road at the intersection of Broadway and Hitt streets and sat down on the brick crosswalk, shutting down traffic in certain parts of downtown Columbia until nearly 1:00 a.m.

By 11:30 p.m., when the largely stationary march was occupying the intersection of Tenth and Cherry streets, the number of demonstrators reached at least 50. They were protesting reactions to the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice as well as misappropriations of the rallying cries associated with each case.

Before leaving MU campus and marching into downtown, leaders of the march cited the wristbands at Roxy's the prior evening, which were said to read, "hands up, pants up," as the main reason for the timing of the protest.

"I'm here to support black lives and oppressed people of all colors," protest organizer Ayanna Poole said in an interview before the march. "I’m uncomfortable everyday, because of how I’m treated as a black woman. So tonight, I want to make everyone feel like I do. There have been too many negative reactions on campus and it hurts me."

The protesters, who were chanting continuously throughout the evening, departed Speakers Circle following a prayer at 9:25 p.m.

Missouri Students Association President-Elect Payton Head and Vice President-Elect Brenda Smith-Lezama joined the group of demonstrators around 9:40 p.m., while they were protesting on the sidewalk in front of Roxy's velvet entrance ropes.

"Tonight was incredibly powerful," Smith-Lezama said. "It was really inspiring to see this many people come out and supporting a cause this important."

At 10:35 p.m., the protesters began marching down Broadway and toward toward their second destination, Harpo's at Tenth and Cherry streets.

It was there that, shortly after the group stopped traffic, two women abandoned their car in the blocked road to join the protest.

"We were trying to go home, and the protest blocked us," one of the women, Emily Morse, said. "But we would have joined the protest anyway, had we known it was going on. I think there are a lot of people around here who are still mocking it. They're still mocking us. We need to get some attention."

From there, the protesters returned to the Broadway and Hitt intersection around 11:30 p.m., where they remained until 12:40 a.m., when protest organizers led the group back to Speakers Circle. The march ended there nearly four hours after it began.

"I love all of you guys," Poole told the crowd. "But I'm not going to talk because, one, I don't have a voice, and two, I'm going to cry.”

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