Ithaca, N.Y. — Thursday afternoon, hundreds of Ithaca College students angered by the grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases participated in a peaceful protest in which demonstrators laid on the ground, marched, and chanted.
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[fvplayer src=”https://vimeo.com/112409991″ loop=”true” mobile=”https://vimeo.com/112409991″]
Yesterday’s demonstration — consisting of more than 300 students, according to a report by The Ithacan — culminated with protesters confronting Ithaca College President Tom Rochon in the Peggy Ryan Williams Center, where his office is located.
Students held the demonstration to raise awareness about racial injustices across the country, according to a Facebook page organizing the event.
Here’s a video from the interaction between Rochon and the students, published with permission from Izzy Demmon, a junior at IC:
Rochon prompted chants from the students when he said that he would not speak on the issues of racial injustice and police brutality.
“White silence is white consent!,” some protesters said. When Rochon was asked if he wanted justice for Michael Brown, he responded by saying, “We all stand for justice on this campus.”
Yesterday’s demonstration followed a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, a police officer in NYC who killed a man during an arrest by using a chokehold.
Eric Garner, 43, died of injuries sustained when the officer in question placed Garner in a chokehold on July 17. Garner was suspected of selling loose cigarettes. A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, according to USA Today.
Protests and demonstrations have occurred nationwide, including in Ithaca, in response to the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown by police.
(Video courtesy of Dan States, Ithaca College student)
Asked about academic changes, Rochon replied by saying that he does not have the power to change the curriculum on his own and that he could only offer his support on the matter.
“If you have the money, you have the power,” one protester said. “Put it in writing!”
“I just said you have my advocacy,” Rochon responded. “It’s not just words.”
(The video above is from Ithaca College’s student newspaper, The Ithacan)
Rita Bunatal, a junior at Ithaca College, said the demonstration touched on topics relevant for everyone.
“I feel as though the issue of police brutality, structural violence, and structural racism are issues that concern all of us and involve all of us,” she said.
“I think the impact is that it started conversation on campus. It started conversations with folks that were in it and not in it … It made folks feel uncomfortable, which, at the end of the day, is not really a bad thing.”