By Nico MachlittSTAFF WRITER
At Hofstra University on Wednesday, Oct. 29, the Democrats of Hofstra University and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter at Hofstra University, held a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protest in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Mo. While many students lined up in the student center for tickets for Jets football and Disney’s “Frozen on Ice,” only four students attended the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protest.
The protest was part of a national movement that has developed to show solidarity with the town of Ferguson where civil protests have been taking place since August.
On Aug. 9 in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson. The circumstances of what led to the gunshot are still in dispute. The police say that Mr. Brown was shot during a fight for the officer’s gun, while some witnesses say that Mr. Brown’s hands were in the air when the shots were fired. The shooting has led to wide spread media coverage and conversations about police brutality and racism.
The shooting of Michael Brown occurred a year and a half after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Martin was a 17-year-old African American boy, who was fatally shot and killed in Miami Gardens, Fla. Martin was walking through the neighborhood unarmed but neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman thought he looked suspicious and after an altercation Martin was shot and killed. Martin and Brown were both young, African American males who were shot in predominantly white areas. The media focused on how race played a part in the deaths of the young men.
Ferguson is a city with great racial tension because the city’s population is racially divided by neighborhoods, while the law enforcement is predominantly white throughout the city. After the shooting of Brown, protests began, with thousands coming out the days following the shooting, carrying signs and lighting candles.
These protests quickly turned violent with the heightened tension between the African American community and the police officers. The protesters were met with hundreds of police officers in riot gear, carrying rifles and shields, as well as K-9 units.
Social media told the story of the Ferguson citizens. Images and videos began to flood social media websites, and minute-by-minute social media coverage was reported by the Ferguson people.
Images of guns pointed at protesters and people washing out their eyes from tear gas were displayed.
Protests started all over the country called “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” This is a representation of the sign of surrender and submission that black men and boys in Ferguson say they learn early on when dealing with police, and it has been transformed into a different kind of weapon.
“If you want justice, throw your arms up. Because that’s the sign Michael was using. He had a surrender sign. That’s the sign you have to deal with. Use the sign he last showed. We want answers why that last sign was not respected,” said Reverend Al Sharpton, who traveled to St. Louis in the wake of the death of Michael Brown.
President of Collegiate Women of Color Mikwaevonn Mills was one of the four people who attended the event because of her passion for this topic.
“I think people should still care about this topic because police brutality is still occurring, whether it’s in Ferguson, Missouri, or out here in Hempstead, Long Island,” Mills said. “You should fight for a cause that you believe in and I believe that police brutality should be stopped.”
Mills believes this impacts everyone on campus. “Police brutality is something that happens to people of all races, all creeds, all genders and I think it’s something that people should be standing up and fighting for until a change comes,” she said.
Shannon Dixon, secretary of the NAACP Hofstra chapter, commented on how long ago the shooting happened and its popularity depleting.
“I do think that a lot of enthusiasm sizzles out after a while but I don’t think that it should. If this is an issue that people care about, then we should care until it’s resolved, not until it’s no longer popular,” Dixon said. “Police brutality is something that could affect us all and so all students should be out here.”