NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The idea of this protest started among a handful of art students here at Yale, who were just talking about what was happening in Ferguson and then decided to take a stand by taking a walk.
“It is unacceptable to presume threat based on race, age, perceived gender or appearance otherwise,” one speaker said. The protesters hope their presence and their signs speak loudly enough to those seeing the silent march through downtown New Haven.
Emily Herberich, Yale employee, said, “So this is in honor of Eric Garner who was racially profiled for basically no reason. I think he was selling cigarettes and was put in a choke hold and died.”
Many joined the show of solidarity because off their own experiences. Lincoln Mitchell,Yale senior said, “From menial things, when I walk up to cars and people lock doors, to more direct things [like] when I was going through TSA, when people are like, ‘Oh why are your pants low? Well sir, I don’t have on a belt because I’m actually going through TSA.’”
Patricia Okonta, Yale senior, said, “I’m actually a Missouri resident even though I’m here at school and I wanted to show solidarity in an issue that is affecting everyone in the nation, no matter your skin color, your race, your ethnicity.”
The protests in Ferguson, Mo., at first peaceful, have turned violent. Teenager Michael Brown was shot by police after reportedly stealing from a local convenience store. Some witnesses say he had raised his hands to surrender.
Henry Chapman said, “Does it make any difference that he may have been involved in a larceny? No, it doesn’t make any difference at all. The real issue here is structural racism.”
Chapman is among those art students who organized the march. “None of us can stay silent about a thing that really affects everyone and Yale is just one of many places that needs to be having this conversation.”
They’re walking in silence but they’re hoping their message will be heard loud and clear.