On Campus

Syracuse University community members stage die-in on University Place promenade

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

About 200 Syracuse University community members laid down on the University Place promenade as part of a die-in on Wednesday. This demonstration was done to bring attention to police brutality specifically toward people of color.

About 200 bodies were sprawled out on the University Place promenade, seemingly dead.

These 200-some Syracuse University community members gathered for a die-in on Wednesday at noon. The protest was a visual demonstration of black and brown bodies being taken at the hands of law enforcement using unnecessary force.

Minutes before 12:30 p.m. participants began filing outside of the Schine Student Center and into three lines — which stretched from the front of Schine to E.S. Bird Library. Most participants held up white signs that contrasted against their mostly-black attire. The signs either had the name and age of somebody who had been killed at the hands of police, or the reason given of why they had been killed.

Among the names were Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Freddie Gray. Some of the reasons for their deaths were written on the signs: “I was murdered after a routine traffic stop” and “I was shot walking home from the corner store.”

People at the front of the lines held up a banner with the words: “201. HOW MANY MORE?” The banner background was made up of the names of the 201 black and brown bodies that have been killed at the hands of police brutality as of the day before, according to The Guardian.

As participants in the die-in prepared to start the demonstration, bystanders began to stop along the promenade to watch.

At exactly 12:30 p.m. someone at the very end of the line yelled, “201.”

At that moment all of the participants silently laid down on the promenade and closed their eyes. Some were sprawled out, others laid straight on their back and a few were on their stomachs with their backs exposed to the sky.

For 10 minutes the protestors lay as still as they could while the sun beat down on their bodies and the promenade bricks warmed up against their skin. Ten minutes to represent that only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 involving an unarmed black person being killed by police resulted in an officer or officers being charged with a crime.

 

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Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

Hundreds of SU community members gathered around the promenade to watch the protest. Those walking on or near the promenade slowed down to take pictures or to even stop and read the signs.

A few passersby could be heard asking, “What is this?”

At 12:40 p.m. somebody from the end of the line yelled, “Rise.” Slowly from the end of the line to the front a ripple of people rose from their positions on the ground.

One of the participants began to sing “Wade in the Water,” a popular Negro spiritual song used to help slaves on the road to freedom.

They repeated the verse: “Wade in the water, Wade in the water, Children, Wade in the water God’s gonna trouble the water,” continually getting louder and louder.

As people put their fists in the air — a symbol of solidarity — they began marching toward the area in between the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Schine, stopping at the steps.

Bruce Miles, a senior economics major, spoke on how he felt during the die-in and why it was important.

“I just felt like a spectacle to those that passed me by,” Miles said. “… It really made me realize just how disposable black bodies are.”

Miles said today was a demonstration to honor those who had been killed and to show what students can really do when they come together. He said the representation was done visually because sometimes it is easier to see than to hear.

“Whether it be every Wednesday, whether it be every Thursday, whether it be every day we will wear black, we will stand in solidarity, we will stand for those names on this banner and unfortunately the names to come,” Miles said.

Bobby Maldonado, chief of the Department of Public Safety at SU, said the demonstration was a powerful statement by the students that clearly rose the level of awareness about issues in the United States. He added that he thought the protest was done very respectfully.

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