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Skidmore College

"Die-in" responds to events in New York, Missouri

December 5, 2014
Students at campus die-in

For the second time in four days, the Skidmore community came together in solidarity, responding to events that have taken place far beyond the campus borders.

“#ThisStopsToday,” a “die-in for Eric Garner,” drew about 150 students, faculty, and staff members to the Case Center walkway at noon Thursday, Dec. 4. Using social media, email, and word of mouth, student organizers Gerolly Lorenzo ’15, Rashawnda Williams ’17, Tashawn Reagon ’16, and Glenibel Cruz ’15 turned a spur- of-the moment idea into a powerful symbol of connection to society.

During the moments leading up to the event, pedestrian traffic around Case Center was light but suddenly picked up markedly, with dozens of people gathering by the appointed time. At noon, Cruz explained the significance of the gathering. She asked those attending to lie down on the Case walkway for four and a half minutes and explained that each person would be outlined in chalk before rising. The outlines are serve as a constant reminder to those passing by of the protest, even if there aren’t actual bodies on the floor.

Student at die-in

Some students held signs referring to recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City. Grand juries convened in each community declined to indict white policemen responsible for the deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y. Both victims were black and unarmed. Public dismay with each decision has been vocal, with responses ranging from violent outbreaks in Missouri to marches throughout New York City. There have been rallies throughout the country.

Cruz explained that the Dec. 4 Skidmore event was part of a national protest in response to decisions by both grand juries. “We are protesting against police brutality and guns being drawn against members of the black community,” she said. “After he was shot, Mike Brown was on the ground in Missouri for four and half hours. We used four and half minutes to symbolize the time that he lay dead,” Cruz added.

Chalk images at die-in

She continued, “We know that people are angry and we are angry. This issue is important to us on and outside of campus, and it affects students of color who are afraid to walk in their communities.”

She said the turnout was “amazing” and that she and other organizers were “very pleased.” It was gratifying to see “so many different, diverse faces.” There are times, Cruz said, “when we students get into a routine of talking only to each other. It was good to see faculty and staff members show their support.” She added, “We planned this last night and were going crazy on Facebook, and emailing professors—we wanted to get the word out.”

The sociology major who hails from the Bronx in New York City said, “I have been involved in many interests throughout my whole Skidmore career. I’ve always been involved. And this is an issue that really matters to me,” Cruz said.

Click here to view a local news report on the event.

(All photos by Bob Kimmerle)

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