Ithaca, N.Y. — Approximately 200 people mostly disagreeing with the decision not to indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson gathered in Uris Hall at Cornell on Wednesday evening for a town hall discussion and vigil.

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Attendees also spoke in opposition to the decision of a Staten Island grand jury not to indict the white officer who killed Eric Garner.

Three Cornell professors spoke during the discussion: Joseph Margulies, law and government; Russell Rickford, history; and N’Dri Assie-Lumumba, Africana.

Margulies began the meeting with an explanation of the grand jury process, specifically related to the process in Missouri. Margulies talked about the aspects of the Ferguson grand jury hearing that were different than a traditional grand jury hearing.

Rickford opened his lecture with this quote by Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Courtesy of BSU’s website

Rickford also spoke about the local protests and the divide between protesters that occurred last week in downtown Ithaca that led to some disruption.

“We have to inflict pain on the system, we have to make the system suffer,” said Rickford.

The open discussion gave students, and other attendees, the opportunity to express their opinions. One speaker offered advice on how to deal with the emotional frustration many were facing with regard to police brutality.

The meeting, discussion and vigil produced a large turn out, considering the event was put together in less than 48 hours, according to Antoine Saint-Victor, Co-President of the Black Students United Organization at Cornell.

The event ended in a candlelight vigil outside of Ho Plaza. The crowd then grew even larger when students exiting buildings and passing by joined in the moment of silence.

“We will definitely have more town halls and more demonstrations to cause change,” said Saint-Victor.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.