Highlanders and members of the Riverside community observed a national day of action against mass incarceration and police brutality during an ASUCR-led event on Oct. 22. The overall movement picked up momentum after Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American from Ferguson, Mo., was shot by a police officer back in August 2014.
The advent of the national day of action originated as a grassroots campaign to mobilize community members nationwide to spread awareness about issues such as increased police militarization and violence against communities of color. Protests have also taken place in Ferguson, Los Angeles, New York City and Atlanta among many other cities.
At the start of the event, ASUCR members led a march from the Bell Tower through the HUB area. Chants condemning police brutality included “No justice, no peace, no racist police” and “Same story every time. Being black is not a crime!” and were utilized in between speeches, in which speakers condemned police-related deaths of young African Americans and called for a revolution replacing elected officials by way of voting. Headstones bearing the names of Americans murdered by police, such as Eric Garner and Israel Hernandez, were also on display during the rally.
Rafael Vaca, fourth-year theatre major, attended the demonstration and essentially supported the protests’ message but felt that the “call for action didn’t entail meaningful solutions to really solve the epidemic of police brutality that has surged in recent years.”
Last Monday, UCR students also participated in other solidarity events, which included holding themselves in mock solitary confinement to protest mass incarceration. Lasting from noon to 11 p.m, the protest meant to raise awareness of the 200,000 to 800,000 prisoners who are put into Security Housing Units without documented reason.
“As soon as I leave (the school), I am a target,” said Lazaque Mugerwa, electrical engineering major, on his own reasons for joining the protest. “I think supporting the protests is more important than getting good grades.”
Contributions made by Estefania Zavala