More than 200 people gathered on LSU’s campus Wednesday night to hold a memorial for Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown and others whose deaths they believe illustrate tensions between law enforcement and the black community.
A white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Brown, who was black, in the middle of a street in August, setting off a wave of demonstrations that made national headlines. A grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson set off more violent protests in Ferguson and elsewhere shortly after it was announced Monday night.
But LSU’s event, which was organized by an LSU student, was non-violent and mostly solemn.. At one point, the attendees — mostly students and predominantly black — were urged to hug the people standing next to them, and they enthusiastically complied.
But it was clear many of the attendees, who bundled up in warm coats and hats outside in LSU’s candle-lined Greek Theater, were frustrated by the grand jury and Brown’s death. Wilson, who still faces a federal inquiry but has been cleared on the local level with the grand jury’s action, repeatedly was referred to with disdain — dismissed as a “murderer” at the LSU event and portrayed as the latest example of countless cases of conflict between law enforcement and African-Americans.
The group read aloud names of African-Americans who have been killed by law enforcement officers.
“Each time I have an opportunity to talk about it, it doesn’t get any easier — our hearts are heavy,” said NAACP-Louisiana legal counsel Afreda Tillman Bester. “Again, a young man is dead, a family has lost their child and it seems that our court system does not care.”
Tillman Bester urged the attendees to vote in local elections. The crowd responded with supportive vocal affirmations, chanting with her, “If you don’t vote, you don’t count.”
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