Hands up, don’t shoot: A guide to peaceful protest

by Page Forrest

Junior Editor

More often than not, freshmen are terrified about getting involved on campus. Finding enough people together to fill one table in McClurg is hard enough, let alone enough to stage a gathering outside of All Saints. However, Amir Kamrani (C’18) is not so easily daunted. On Sunday, August 25, Kamrani and several members of the freshman class, as well as upperclassmen and professors, assembled to raise awareness for the events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri. On August 9, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Citizens of Ferguson organized peaceful gatherings to mourn Brown and call attention to the fact that no legal action had been taken against Wilson. However, the situation turned into an American nightmare when the police militarized and blockaded the town, refusing entry to media, bombarding the protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets, and attempting to limit the citizens right to peaceful assembly. Controversy has also arisen due to several eyewitness accounts, in addition to a forensics report, stating that Brown was on his knees with his hands up when shot. This lead to a rally cry of “Hands up, don’t shoot!” being used by the protestors, which later spread through social media. Since then, several protests have taken place around the country to call attention to the events in Ferguson. Kamrani, however, was insistent that what he organized was not a protest.

On August 24, Kamrani reached out to students he had met, mostly through his FYP group, and told them about the gathering. He was driven to action as he learned more and more about how quickly the situation in Ferguson has escalated. “What the police [in Ferguson] are doing is unconstitutional and a violation of human rights.” Kamrani stated. “I feel sad when something like this is happening in the United States and people aren’t aware. I think we have obligations as college students, with access to so much information, to not only stay informed, but also to take action.” Kamrani is no stranger to taking action. In high school, he organized several similar events, including a gathering in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and a fundraiser for victims in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. He looks forward to continuing to be involved on campus, Photo courtesy of Amir Kamraniand expressed interest in starting an Amnesty International student organization on campus. For any student who is interested in organizing a gathering or protest, the University will honor our right to assemble. However, Chief Marie Elridge of the Sewanee Police requests that students let her or the Dean of Students know at least a week beforehand. A revised policy on assembling on University grounds will be released later this month, reworked by the Sewanee Police Department and the office of the Dean of Students.