Hundreds take part in ‘die-in’ demonstration on campus
Hundreds of Yale students, faculty, and staff silently splayed themselves out in the street on Dec. 5 to protest the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr., and other black men and women during altercations with police.
The “die-in” demonstration began outside Yale Law School and occupied Wall Street for several city blocks. Protesters — some wearing backpacks, others carrying babies — fanned out from the steps of Yale Law School to the steps of New Haven Superior Court and laid down on the cold asphalt.
Their intent, participants said, was to make a visual statement about lives snuffed out needlessly by law enforcement because of the color of their skin. The die-in was part of a nationwide wave of protests since a grand jury in New York chose not to indict the police officer who placed Garner in a chokehold that led to his death.
An earlier wave of demonstrations occurred after a grand jury in Missouri did not indict an officer in the shooting death of Brown.
“We must say, ‘No more,’” organizer Jordan Bryant, a second-year law student, told demonstrators as they prepared to link hands. “We demand justice for Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and all those who die as a result of police brutality.”
Bryant said the law school and courthouse are symbols of the laws and criminal justice system responsible for granting equality for all Americans. She said the deaths of Garner and Brown, and the “seeming immunity of their killers,” cannot be tolerated.
A coalition of groups from Yale Law School planned the protest, which drew a cross-section of the Yale community. Law School Dean Robert C. Post and former dean Harold Koh were among those who took part.
Some demonstrators taped photographs of Garner to their coats, while others held up pieces of paper that said “Indict the System” and “Black Lives Matter.” Organizers instructed the crowd to be respectful of onlookers, as well as law enforcement personnel at the event.
“This afternoon’s peaceful demonstration was well planned and well coordinated,” said Yale Chief of Police Ronnell Higgins, who added that there were no arrests or incidents at the event. “The organizers were in touch with the YPD early on, which enabled us to facilitate today’s demonstration with ease, as is the case with most campus groups and organizations participating in demonstrations and protests.”
Forming a human chain, the demonstrators threaded their way up Wall Street. Once on the ground, they remained silent for 4.5 minutes — symbolizing the 4.5 hours that Brown’s body was left in the street.
The demonstrators then rose and marched to the courthouse steps. They chanted, “Black lives matter!” Bryant thanked the participants for their efforts and encouraged them to remain active in demanding justice.
“Our silence is for the voices that were taken too soon,” said Phillip Howze, a student playwright at the Yale School of Drama. “It is about the silence that surrounds these murders and the silence that has been happening for centuries.