Monday night’s announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO on August 9 of this year, left people across the country, and across our campus, with deeply felt emotions ranging from devastation, to rage, to fear. In light of this paralyzing news, though, many were compelled to act, standing up for the justice they do not think was achieved in the courts. Often, Reedies as a group are plastered with the label “apathetic,” but those accusers seem to have it wrong. When an issue appears that, with its potential injustice, sadness, and wide-ranging consequences, dwarfs even the most pressing academic concerns, many students spring into action — even more into reaction.
This action took several forms. At 4:00 pm on Tuesday afternoon, a rally was held in front of the Justice Center in downtown Portland, splintering off into a march. Even closer to home, a candlelight vigil was held in the Quad at 6:30 the same night. Of these events, Olivia Kilgore ’16 said “Today was rough. I ended up going to both the protest and the vigil on campus. Both were very different and incredibly important, for me personally.” Kai Addae ’15 echoes this sentiment. “I went to the protest downtown, which was pretty inspiring. So many people showed up and were so vividly present, it was great to just march and cheer with others who care. Processing all of this alone can be really isolating, and it was such a relief to be on the street standing next to people who are feeling the same things you are.” Addae continued “Reed too, stepped it up on this one. A lot of Reedies went to the protest, and the vigil tonight was really raw, but really meaningful. We stood in silence for a while, and I’m glad we made the space to mourn all of those who we’ve lost to this sick system.”
Of the vigil, Kilgore agreed “The vigil was a time to remember and reflect on what has happened, both in the last 24 hours and the last 10 years. And these issues open a lot of wounds for a lot of people.” In terms of hopes for the future, Addae looks forward to Reedies, as well as the wider community, continuing to make “space to talk about this, and stay engaged in the long process of change. Black and brown lives matter, our deaths matter, and I’m so tired of being told and shown otherwise by the criminal justice system, the media, and white supremacists. There’s a lot that needs fixing, and I can only hope that we can work together to make it happen.”