In aftermath of Ferguson, students respond with events and discussion

A few weeks before many new students started their first year at Wheaton, a future freshman’s life was lost before he could even begin his college career.

On Aug. 9, Michael Brown, who was scheduled to begin school at Vatterott College in the fall, was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. His death sparked outrage in the Ferguson community and throughout the nation, leading to conversations on police brutality, racism, justice and the militarization of local police forces.

Protests ensued immediately after Brown’s death. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon set a curfew for Ferguson on Aug. 16 and two days later ordered the National Guard to come to Ferguson to quell protests. Since around Aug. 20, the protests have calmed significantly.

Currently, the St. Louis County Police Department is investigating whether the shooting of Michael Brown, who was unarmed, was justified.

Together We All Prosper (TWAP) house and the Black Student Alliance kicked off the first of many events at Wheaton dedicated to discussing and finding solutions to the events in Ferguson this past Friday, Sept. 5.

From 2 to 4 p.m., students took pictures with a sign reading “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” to show their solidarity with Brown, who allegedly said those words before he was killed.

Juwan Mimes ’15, president of TWAP house, said that Tyrek Greene ’15, one of his housemates, approached him with the idea of having a series of events dedicated to discussing Ferguson.

“It was a great idea. It is controversial and very relevant to everyone. We are all young people and we do have members of color in our house,” Mimes said.

The two groups also displayed a poster at the  photoshoot, providing a timeline of different instances of police brutality, starting with the 1992 Los Angeles riots and ending with Ferguson.

A couple of days later, the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive political activism group on campus, held their first Fireside chat in Mary Lyon on Monday, Sept. 8. The group discussed not only what problems caused the events in Ferguson to occur, but also looked to discuss what specific policy solutions could help ameliorate the situation there. 

Originally, Greene planned a candlelight vigil in memory of Brown for Sept. 7. However, he decided to cancel the event so that TWAP house and BSA could collaborate. The vigil has been rescheduled for Sept. 30, and will be accompanied by a Town Hall meeting to discuss police brutality. 

Greene said he is very excited to see where the events go from here. 

“What made me want to organize this event was I know that everyone in the house feels like this is a huge problem. It’s essentially almost a genocide of people for no apparent reason,” Greene said.