Brown community continues to show solidarity with Ferguson and New York

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In the weeks since the non-indictments of the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we have seen all kinds of protests against a justice system that is rarely applied equally to all Americans. In Providence alone, there have been die-ins, marches, and a massive petition to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse demanding reform.

Though finals period often takes our attention away from just about everything outside of our looming exams, many members of the Brown community have continued to stand up and demand a more equitable justice system–one in which black lives matter. You can see as much on your news feed every day: our classmates are traveling to New York to join the Millions March, sharing posts about how best to be an ally at a time like this, and expressing their rage and sorrow at the events of the past month. Some have led their own protests, lending a hand in the best way they know how.

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BlogDH Exclusive! An interview with comedian W. Kamau Bell

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“I may never be regarded as the funniest comic in the country, but I am going to regarded as the most me in the country.”

Comedian W. Kamau Bell is funny, angry, and coming to Providence this Saturday night. Bell’s socially and politically aware comedy has received sophisticated praise from news outlets all over the country. The ACLU recently named Bell an Ambassador of Racial Justice. Bell currently produces a podcast along with comedian Kevin Avery entitled Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of all Time Period. In anticipation of Bell’s visit to Providence, I spoke with him about Ferguson, intersectional progressivism, and his adoration of Denzel Washington.

BlogDH: How did you go from the University of Pennsylvania to stand-up comedy?

WKB: I was there for a year and a half and I realized I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer or a businessman, so I dropped out. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to do comedy, so when I realized that I didn’t want to take the path that was laid out for me, I started to put my toes in the waters of comedy. Basically, that’s sort of accelerated ever since.

BlogDH: Were you a funny kid?

WKB: [Laughs] Sounds like a challenge. I thought I was funny, but I wasn’t the class clown, so I didn’t have a large sample size. I was an only child, so I was really only funny to me and the person directly to my right. A lot of times that person was my mom, and she thought I was hilarious. When I first started doing comedy, sometimes I would do a show and the only people that would laugh would be my mom and my friend Jason.

BlogDH: How do you make your comedy appeal to larger audiences?

WKB: To make a clumsy metaphor, it’s like a war of attrition [laughs]. You have to keep showing up. I think Henry Rollins said, “The only way you can succeed is not to quit.” I kept being an honest judge of my work, as opposed to certain people who might give themselves a blue ribbon for showing up. I also think the thing that helped me most was trying not to be like anybody else. I may never be regarded as the funniest comic in the country, but I am going to be regarded as the most me in the country.

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Takeaways from The Verdict: community discussion on the events of Ferguson, Missouri

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Following the the silent, peaceful and powerful Die-In Protest, students gathered at the Brown-RISD Hillel at 5 pm to vocalize their feelings towards the events of Ferguson, MO.

After seeing a case that has captivated the country’s attention and caused so much student response, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity hosted the event with one clear purpose: “To provide a background into the events surrounding the verdict of whether to indict Darren Wilson, including the events surrounding the murder of Mike Brown and the climate of Ferguson after these events.” 

While the participants in the discussion expressed their own tear-jerking opinions, the moderators, Ricardo Mullings ‘15.5 and Godwin Tsado ’16, provided a comprehensive, clear guide to the facts of the case and the consequent media coverage. This is what we all should know:

The evidence and Darren Wilson’s testimony.

On August 9th, Michael Brown was jaywalking when Officer Darren Wilson asked him to move to the sidewalk. According to Wilson, when he tried to exit his vehicle to approach Brown, Brown closed the car door before he could get out, which started an altercation. The officer claims that after receiving a blow to the head from Brown, he drew his weapon. Wilson said that he was scared for his life, and that he “felt like a five year old holding onto Hulk Hogan,” in the presence of Brown. He also claims that he was assaulted by Brown, and was diagnosed with a bruise in the mandibular joint area, or the jaw. After the assault, Brown grabbed the weapon, perhaps to intentionally jam it, or maybe to use it on the officer.

The gun itself was never tested for Brown’s prints, only his blood DNA, but either way it resulted in two shots that hit Brown, causing him to flee from the officer. As Wilson pursued Brown, he fired 10 more shots, six of which hit and ended the 18 year old’s life. The autopsy showed that none of the bullets hit Brown in the back, however witnesses say that the officer fired his weapon while Brown was fleeing, which caused the unarmed teenager to turn around, either in surrender or in retaliation depending on who you ask, as he faced six more bullets. Brown’s body was found 153 feet away from the officer’s vehicle.

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Die-in Protest: #BrownStandsWithFerguson

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For a moment, the Main Green was silent.

At 2 p.m. today, students began lying down in front of Sayles Hall, clutching white pieces of paper to their chests. The papers each had a name, a date and an age–the name of a black American killed due to police brutality, the date of their death and their age. At its peak, over 100 students, diverse in their racial makeup, lay silently and in solidarity.

The Die-In Protest, organized by Jordan Ferguson ’17, the leader of the Black Student Union at Brown, marked the first official Brown-organized act of resistance in the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of an unarmed teenager, Mike Brown, in Ferguson, MO. Although the verdict was released a week ago, Thanksgiving break thwarted potential reactive events on Brown’s campus, although there were protests in Providence throughout last week.

The protest was silent for its entirety. Bystanders, too, spoke in hushed voices. Brown students rushing to class stopped to snap pictures (#‎BrownStandsWithFerguson‬ is the hashtag being used on social media), Providence residents walking their dogs tapped students on the shoulders asking, “What’s this for?” and an ABC 6 news reporter stood on the side, recording the event. While after a few minutes, activities resumed throughout the Main Green, the area around Sayles stayed relatively muted for an hour and a half, until the last protestors rose.

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What to do this week: December 1 – 7

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Monday, December 1

Event: Die-In Protest
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Main Green

In response to the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson, this Die-In “represents the Black lives that have been lost in this country due to police brutality.”

Event: The Verdict: Community Discussion on the events of Ferguson, Missouri
Time: 5:00p.m.
Location: 80 Brown St.

Alpha Phi Alpha is hosting a discussion to provide information about the events surrounding the murder of Mike Brown, the decision not to indict Wilson, and the climate of response in Ferguson.

Event: March Against Police Violence in Solidarity with Ferguson and Mexico
Time: 7:00p.m
Location: Burnside Park, Washington St. (AKA The People’s Park)

Today, students, workers, and human rights activists around the world will be holding a national day of struggle in solidarity with Ferguson and Mexico. The event is calling allies to gather in response to the killing of Michael Brown and the disappearance and murder of students of Ayotzinapa in Mexico.

Tuesday, December 2

Event: Day of Silence
Time: All day
Location: Brown campus ; Faunce

In memory of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and all others who have lost their lives, a Day of Silence will be conducted throughout campus. The silence will be broken with a group gathering on the Faunce steps at 8:30p.m.

Event: IMPULSE Dance Company sponsored blood drive
Time: 11a.m.-6p.m.
Location: Brown-RISD Hillel (80 Brown St.)

Impulse Dance Company urges you to donate blood this Tuesday – Thursday!

Event: “Hurt People Hurt People:” An open art space for Microaggressions at Brown
Time: 5:30-7p.m.
Location: Leung Gallery

Join the Participatory Action Research team in their culminating research project on race-, gender-, and sexuality-based microaggressions at Brown. All students, staff, faculty, and guests will be able to write down and share their own narratives of experiencing or witnessing microaggressions and attaching them to a 3-D frame of thread with ribbon.

Event: White House Internship Info Session
Time: 7-8p.m.
Location: Wilson 102

Join CareerLAB and previous White House interns for an information session about summer opportunities with the White House Internship Program. Applications are due January 11, 2015. Learn more here.

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What we’re reading: Ferguson edition

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Today, BlogDH lends it platform to the coverage of the events in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.

We start with the fundamentals: how was the decision reached? The Washington Post provides insight into the process of how grand juries in Missouri work. If you want to read any of the material that the Grand Jury looked at in the past months, the New York Times has an interactive feature containing the documents released by the county prosecutor.

For coverage of the protests taking place after the decision was announced, the Root does straight reporting on how the police force responded last night in their article “61 Arrested, 10 Businesses Destroyed, 150 Shots Fired.” On the other hand, Mic.com uses 20 photos to portray a much more civilian-centered account of the protests in Ferguson. Spoiler alert: the police force in St. Louis have a very different interpretation of the protests than the civilian protesters do.

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Much of the news coverage is centered around the resulting violent protests. Obama’s address to the nation asked for a peaceful response after the Grand Jury’s decision was released. The Huffington Post contrasts Ferguson with civil unrest around the nation that has nothing to do with politics, such as the scene of wreckage in San Francisco after the Giants won the World Series. In international coverage, Palestinians have been tweeting advice to protesters in the states on how to deal with tear gas.

Moving on from reporting, we look to analyses and media centered responses. FiveThirtyEight details why it is so unusual for a Grand Jury not to indict the accused, except in the case of police officers standing trial. The Root speaks to legal expert and attorney Eric Guster about the possibilities for bringing Darren Wilson up on civil charges, as the past few months have only held deliberations over criminal charges.

Some important opinions articles on the subject of race relations are being recycled due to continuing relevance. In August, Carol Anderson wrote an opinions piece in the Washington Post on why black rage against an unjust system is ruthlessly bashed in the media, while white rage against progress and equality is backed by the courts and the government. The Atlantic just bumped a powerful features piece called “The Case for Reparations: Two hundred and fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”

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