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.
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.