Dozens of students marched in Lincoln Park on Wednesday to protest police-instigated violence against young black men.
The demonstration, organized by student leaders from several DePaul social justice groups, began at 5 p.m. in the Student Center, and lasted for an hour. The march followed a serpentine pattern around the campus, as onlookers took pictures and participants waved banner signs and chanted slogans denouncing racism in police.
To drive the point home further, several volunteers – all young black men – walked in front of the demonstrators’ column; arms held above their heads and sweater hoods put up. They, in turn, were led by Jerusha Young and Edward Ward, student presidents of JASA – “Just A Sister Away” – and MOVE – Men Of Vision and Empowerment – respectively. They directed the march’s movement, kept its column organized, and when necessary, changed up the chant slogan.
“We’re trying to raise awareness,” said Young, “[and]I would define awareness as, instead of just absorbing information, to take it and actually do something about it.”
Awareness was a popular word at the rally. The students marched specifically through densely populated areas of campus, tailing curious students in their wake and inspiring conversation in witnesses.
After the march, fiery speeches were delivered in the Student Center on the state of race and social justice in America. Claims of systemic injustice and bigoted urban law enforcement earned snaps, claps and cheers from both the rally’s participants and passing students.
“American capitalism has become the new slave master,” Ward said in one of those speeches. “And no one is free…the “injustice” system rules us all.”
Since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and perhaps carrying on the spirit of 2011’s “Occupy” movement, many groups – young African-Americans foremost amongst them – have criticized the seeming evaporation of economic opportunity and civil liberties in America. The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, where yet another unarmed black youth was shot by police, only serve to galvanize the sentiment.
It’s not clear if small protests like this one will or can have any lasting impact in the fight against injustice. But, at the very least, they do serve to foment a dissenting spirit. As the demonstrators were still marching, student Hope Hobgood ran from her dorm room on Sheffield to photograph them.
“I rushed down here to see this,” Hobgood said. “I’ve never been in a protest before. It’s kind of on my bucket list now.”