The protesters are calling for the University of Michigan to take more action to combat racism and systematic oppression
ANN ARBOR, MI – Members and activists of the University of Michigan community gathered in Diag Friday night to protest and demand that the university support Daunte Wright’s family and address racism in the UM community.
The protesters, hosted on April 23 by the UM Association for Black Social Work Students, the Black Radical Healing Pathways and the Student Union, had made a number of demands on the university, including public condemnation of Wright’s murder; Take the initiative to support black, indigenous and colored people; Demand white supremacy and invest in alternatives to the police.
“When Daunte Wright was killed in the middle of the George Floyd trial, it was like a slap in the face,” said Jazzy Rivas Dinkins, a graduate student at the UM School of Social Work. “We’re fed up with statements from the university and taking meaningless actions. So we decided to come out and let the university hear our voices.”
Wright, a 20-year-old black man, was fatally shot dead by a police officer during a traffic obstruction in a suburb of Minneapolis on Sunday, April 11th. The shooting took place as the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with the death of George Floyd, was continuing.
Chauvin was convicted of second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter on Tuesday April 20.
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After a meeting in the Diag, the group marched to the house of UM President Mark Schlissel, the headquarters of the UM Department for Public Security, the Flemish administration building and back to the Diag. The group took part in numerous chants as they marched, and people carried signs that read, “Am I Next?”, “You Know Justice, You Know Peace,” and “Who Do You Call When The Police Kills?” .
Domestic terrorism against blacks and browns is a systemic problem even in Ann Arbor, said James Hill IV, who is also a graduate student in UM’s School of Social Work. In Washtenaw County, which Wright says prides itself on liberal ideals, UM administrators and stakeholders speak slowly and are reluctant to show their support for black and brown people.
At UM, Hill IV and other students stand ready for administrators to do more than they say.
“We stand ready for our demands to be answered by the government, which claims that (diversity, equality and inclusion) is the focus of the collapse of racism and systematic oppression,” said Hill IV. “We are out here not to struggle to burn bridges or cause problems. We’re here so we can find alternative forms of policing to make everyone feel safe on our campus. “
Part of what protesters are calling for is accountability for the university and the police, the protesters said. This is part of what the chauvinist ruling did, according to Trische Duckworth, CEO of the community organization Survivors Speak. That ruling opened the door to bringing officials to justice.
“While it was a moment of accountability, so many people have lost their lives and we need to keep pushing these racist structures back,” said Duckworth. “We really have to keep fighting and working against racism and white supremacy in our government structures and institutions that are supposed to help the people.”
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