For ten minutes on Friday afternoon, the usually bustling Student Union was silent as students lay down on the building’s ground floor with their fists in the air.
This action was just one part of Friday's “die-in,” an event responding to this week's police shootings of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa and Keith Scott in Charlotte.
The event began at noon, when a cappella group Harmonyx performed J. Cole's "Be Free."
At this time, students held up signs that said "BLACKLIVESMATTER", "STOP KILLING US" and "#TERENCECRUTCHER #KEITHSCOTT WHO'S NEXT?". When the song finished, students filed into the Union and lay down on the floor.
UNC Charlotte held a similar "die-in" in their student union on Wednesday as a peaceful protest of the shooting of Keith Scott.
Graduate student Miurel Price said she thought it was impactful seeing students on the ground together in support of the injustices facing the black community.
“I think it’s beautiful to see a diverse community show support for a group of people to show compassion and to show love towards a community being oppressed, ostracized and targeted in a negative way,” Price said.
As students in the Union started to stand up again, they joined Harmonyx in singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Lyric sheets for the song were passed around.
First-year Kenan Walden said he didn't know what to expect from the "die-in," but thought it fulfilled its purpose of peaceful protest.
“It’s part of the movement,” he said. “I think it did well — it did what it was supposed to do."
After singing, students went back to the Pit to express how they felt about recent events.
One of the first to speak was Jerome Simpson, a student from Charlotte, who discussed how the shooting and subsequent protests in his home city personally affected him.
“I see my city be turned upside down — I’m hurt, I’m really hurt,” he said. “I know the love and passion that exists in my city.”
Simpson then announced plans for a peaceful protest, which will begin at Morrison Residence Hall at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow. He also commended artists and athletes who have taken a stand against police brutality.
“It’s our turn to take a stand with them,” he said.
Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach co-chairs Cara Pugh and Jihanne Burgess spoke next, and said their cabinet stood with students distraught over the past week's events and who were working to make changes on campuses (full transcript of their speech can be read here.)
As students stood around the Pit listening to one another, sophomore Dom Brodie urged them to look at the community that had come together to advocate for change.
“Do you see the impact we have when we work together?” he said.
Brodie also said just participating in one "die-in" wasn't enough for change, and that the fight for equality wasn’t a one-day or one-week fight, but a long-term one.
“Every single one of you out here — I want to see you again,” he said.
“We need to keep fighting.”
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