MU4MikeBrown holds rally against 'unjust killings of black bodies'

Students gathered to protest at Speakers Circle on Wednesday afternoon, with visual representations of the dead, as well as pro-equal rights poems recited.

A sea of black clothing filled MU’s Speakers Circle on Wednesday afternoon, forming a circle of students holding hands and holding signs.

Sign messages ranged from “We Will Not Be Silent,” to “These Bodies Matter” to “Our Existence is Not Up For Debate” and beyond.

This demonstration in protest of the killing of Michael Brown and other “unjust killings of black bodies" was organized by a new student collective, “MU4MikeBrown.”

Senior Naomi Daugherty, one of the leaders of the organization, kicked off the protest by reading the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, followed by an original poem, finishing with, “Our lives matter.”

The demonstrators next requested a moment of silence from the crowd “for all of the black and brown bodies that have fallen.” A number of students then lay down on the ground in the middle of the circle, as if they were dead.

“There are black bodies dying, and a lot of people don’t realize the significance of this,” Daugherty said. “A lot of people don’t realize that it can be us and that it can be their classmates. We wanted to do this in the center of campus to wake the campus up a little bit more.”

The demonstration was followed by protesters calling out the names of different black victims of fatal police shootings, naming such cases as Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Aiyana Jones and Michael Brown, as if they were taking a roll call. They proceeded to explain the circumstances behind each incident.

Daugherty, along with fellow seniors Ashley Bland and Kailynd Beck, formed MU4MikeBrown one day after the death of Ferguson, Missouri resident Michael Brown, who was gunned down by a police officer in August, in an effort to raise awareness of prejudice toward African-Americans.

“It’s a systemic issue,” senior member Jennifer Pagan said. “It’s more than just Mizzou. The systems need to be dismantled and they need to be reorganized, because they were created on the basis of inequality.”

MU4MikeBrown called for the Wednesday rally via Twitter on Tuesday evening, and asked participants to “wear black to stand in solidarity.”

The gathering consisted of a number of poems, some of which were written by Daugherty, being read by various members of the collective.

At the event's conclusion, chalk outlines were drawn around the prone bodies and signs with victims' names were placed in the outlines.

Freshman Marshall Allen recited a poem during the demonstration, in which he stressed the idea that everyone has value.

“People see (these protests) as angry or careless or senseless,” he said. “But it’s definitely a start to cause awareness."

Allen, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since sixth grade, said he does not want bystanders to take this sort of demonstration the wrong way.

“Whether people misinterpret it or not, they’re going to go home and think about it," he said. "It’s something to ponder.”

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