THE General Body stands in solidarity with the thousands of outraged individuals who have taken to the streets in the last 24 hours to peacefully protest the lack of a grand jury indictment for Darren Wilson, the St. Louis police officer who murdered teenager Michael Brown.
We anticipate two criticisms to this stance: first, that we should stay focused on the struggle at Syracuse University, a position articulated to us this morning; second, perhaps that it is an insult to Michael Brown and the other murdered victims of police violence to compare a campus struggle with the struggle for life itself in the face of police brutality and state violence.
To both these claims we can only say that the fights for justice on city streets and on campus walkways is not only symbolically but actually the same fight.
Our fight at SU and the nationwide fight of last night’s protesters are fights against racist profiling, institutional and structural racism, surveillance, and overpolicing; the insidious narratives of biased media; the refusal to see systemic crimes of poverty, gun violence, sexual violence, and mental illness as public health issues deserving of serious medical response; and the deferral by power brokers to broken legal channels. Active protest for social justice displays the will of community members to risk their personal well-being for collective health, safety, and change.
Universities are microcosms of the world, and student activist movements respond to the same systemic inequalities, manifested on campuses, that appear the world over. As a coalition of students, faculty, staff, and community members committed to social justice and policy change, it is consistent within our mission as THE General Body to raise our voices and join in physical protests for the life of Michael Brown.
Ultimately, our fight is the fight of protesters across the country because, here at Syracuse, we also are raising our voices to proclaim that Black Lives Matter. Students of color arrive at Syracuse having already experienced police discrimination and violence in their home communities, violence that is replicated in the city of Syracuse and implicated on our campus. We see that police violence is sexual violence; that police and war violence create disability; and that obfuscated financial transactions underlie the systemic inequalities that make such unequal power relations possible.
Today, we stand in mourning with the family of Michael Brown and in solidarity with those acting on the occasion of his unjust death for a better world. As the Brown family says, “Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.”
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Members of THE General Body will be present at multiple events in the Syracuse area and on the Syracuse campus to protest and process these recent events.
This afternoon, SU’s Hendricks Chapel will host an interfaith prayer service from 12:30 – 12:45 PM. The Chapel will remain open for silent prayer and reflection from 12:30 – 4:00 PM, at which time the Diversity and Inclusion Workgroup will sponsor a structured conversation on the events in Ferguson, moderated by Kim Williams. The dialogue will end at 5:00 PM.
And the Syracuse community will hold a peaceful protest at noon Tuesday (today) outside the Syracuse Federal Building, 100 S. Clinton St. The National Action Network will hold a town hall meeting at 10 AM Saturday at Fountain of Life Church, 700 South Ave., to discuss the Ferguson announcement and police policy issues on topics including tasers and chokeholds. See the Post-Standard for more on community events.