At noon today and again at 2:30 p.m. students dressed in black clothing gathered outside and inside the Student Union in protest of the fatal shooting of Keith Scott, a 43-year-old African American who was killed by police just miles from campus.
The student organization JM Mentoring & Associates began organizing the event soon after the news of Scott’s death was released. Over night, the movement quickly gathered more traction on social media. Many members of the Black Student Union were also present during the movement along with students.
As students formed a circle outside the front entrance of the Student Union, JM Mentoring & Associates founder Monae McNeil invited any student to come to the center and speak their mind protests and riots that occurred through Tuesday night into today.
The first student to step into the circle was Student Body President Fahn Darkor. Darkor stressed that, if his fellow students wished to exercise their right to protest, that they be safe while they do so.
“I was sad that my fellow students were out there, they were getting tear gased … if you guys are out there protesting on the front lines, make sure that you are safe,” said Darkor. “We want you to exercise your right to protest.”
Several other students stepped into the opening to speak their minds. Some students continued the theme of staying safe while protesting. Other students wanted to stress the importance of staying educated on the issue; that Scott was killed by an African-American police officer.
UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois closed with some remarks about campus culture after the events of last night.
“Every ounce of me will work to make sure that this is the best possible University for you and that it is the safest possible university for you,” said Dubois. “Please continue what you’re doing. Speak out. Vote. Make sure you’re heard.”
Dubois went on to mention that UNC Charlotte will be continuing it’s diversity initiatives on campus, but students who are invested in the issue will do more than any initiative can. The statements that Dubois made during the protest mirror that of the statement that was released to students Wednesday morning.
“The fact that you’re here today means more to the environment than anything I could ever do,” said Dubois.
Just hours after the protest in front of the Student Union ended, another protest movement gathered outside, this time organized by the Black Student Union. Students gathered on the back patio to get organized before moving into the Student Union where dozens of students lay on the ground in protest of police brutality. The students lay there mostly quietly. Occasionally, students broke the silence with phrases like “I do this for justice,” and “I do this for peace,” exclaiming why it was that they were protesting.
“I personally feel like it was very important for us as a campus to protest, especially since this was in our backyard. It would be hypocritical of us to support the cause and not do something today … today it felt necessary to have our voice heard,” said student Bri-Anna Lewis. “It changes when you lay on this ground for two hours and look at the ceiling.”
During both events on campus today, the protests remained peaceful and organized.
Another protest at College Downs apartment complex was rumored to begin at 6 p.m. today.