At least 100 Temple University students staged a “die-in” Thursday in solidarity with protests of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions, and the growing #BlackLivesMatter movement.
At several campus locations, students lay down for four and a half minutes to symbolize the four and half hours that Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after being shot in Ferguson, Missouri.
Temple Die In pic.twitter.com/wICwMLYWZN
— palmtrees (@ImaniTsunami) December 4, 2014
Senior Mathos Sokolo said several student groups got together Wednesday night to organize the protest in an effort to raise awareness.
“We need to educate our communities about what’s going on and the injustices that are taking place,” said Sokolo. “It’s nonsense that lives are being lost for no reason.”
— Dominique (@NeekyTweetsBest) December 4, 2014
Like many students, junior Sharifa Halimi stumbled upon the protest. She said the Ferguson case has come up in her class.
“Half the class didn’t even know anything,” said Halimi. “My professor was even shocked, she was like, ‘Are you guys serious right now? You don’t even know what’s going on in your own country?’ And a lot of the students were like, ‘No—I don’t really care about it.'”
Halimi and her friend Maysa Mujtaba said they would have participated in the die-in if they had known about it earlier.
“I think it was fairly effective in raising awareness,” said Mujtaba. “We got a bunch of people coming out and stopping, and trying to figure out what’s happening. They had a big poster saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ and that hashtag that’s got really famous, so I think people are asking questions about what’s going on.”
Another two students who were taken surprise by the event decided to run and get their cameras.
“This is pretty big right now for Temple, and it’s bringing it home for us — seeing people organizing and demonstrating what they believe in,” said Andrew Caleix. “It was moving to see it.”
The die-in came hours after hundreds of demonstrators marched from 30th Street Station to City Hall, where they overwhelmed the planned Christmas Tree lighting celebration Wednesday night. Philadelphia is one of dozens of cities worldwide where protests and demonstrations have taken place since the grand jury made its decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown.
Sokolo said he believes that this is only the beginning.