“We recognize that these tragic killings are not isolated events, but instead represent a mechanism of the systemic bigotry and white supremacy plaguing our country since its inception,” the statement said.
The Black Lives Matter movement should include black people of different genders and sexual orientations, one student leader said at the protest.
"When we say, 'Black lives matter,' we don't mean 'some Black lives matter,' we mean 'all Black lives matter,'" she said.
Student leaders reiterated that it is important to abolish, rather than reform, unjust systems.
“This is not a reformist movement. It's an abolition movement,” another student leader said. "It’s a movement to abolish police, prisons and all of these systems that are products of white supremacy.”
Demonstrators then continued to march toward North Campus while chanting “no justice, no peace” and holding signs in different languages.
Kellum Thomson, a rising first-year at Kent State University, said that instead of watching the movement happen, he was excited to be able to join in person.
“I was watching everything on the news and I was just tired of sitting at home,” he said. “I got into a big argument with my mom, but we came to the compromise that I'm an adult and that I want to do it.”
In addition to racial justice issues, speakers from UNC student groups also addressed the University's mishandling of sexual assault cases. In August 2019, the U.S. Department of Education concluded that UNC had operated in violation of campus safety laws for years by providing inadequate systems for sexual violence victims, among multiple other violations.
“You must aggressively advocate for sexual assault survivors and victims,” a speaker said. “You must be loud and head on. You must do it in public. You must hold people accountable. You must hold space for people to tell their story and not question them."
From Polk Place, marchers continued north toward Franklin Street and arrived at the Peace and Justice Plaza.
For Friday's protest to have an impact at all, advocacy must continue past one day of demonstrating, said Christopher Smith, a recent high school graduate and town resident who attended the protest.
“As of right now, we did it for one time," Smith said. "But if we keep doing it over time, I think we will make a difference."
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