Recent activism at Penn has centered around campus issues, rather than on national ones, leaving a major national event out of campus discourse.
In late March, footage from a police car dash camera in South Carolina sparked national outrage because it showed a police officer shooting a 50-year-old black male, Walter Scott, in the back as he ran away.
Scott was unarmed at the time of his death, and the officer, 33-year-old Michael Slager, has since been charged with murder.
The incident was reminiscent of a shooting in Philadelphia earlier this year where a Philadelphia Police officer shot 26-year-old black male, Brandon Tate-Brown.
Tate-Brown was shot in the back by police during a routine traffic stop, after allegedly reaching for a weapon. The officer involved in Tate-Brown’s death has since been cleared of charges.
Tate-Brown’s death sparked major activism on campus in the form of Ferguson Friday protests — the weekly protests hosted by Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation.
As a part of these protests, students hung up banners around campus asking “Who Killed Brandon T. Brown?” in protest of the fact that the video of Tate-Brown’s death and the name of the officer responsible had not yet been released for well over a month after the shooting.
Despite the similarities between this case and the incident in South Carolina, there has not been a major protest or demonstration over the latter.
UMOJA Co-Chair College sophomore Ray Clark explained that it is difficult to arrange a sensitive demonstration on short notice.
“It’s a lot of pressure for individuals to organize and come up with a collective statement within the short time span that they have,” Clark said. “Trying to cope with your own emotions is a lot, so doing that on behalf of others is very courageous in itself, in my opinion.”
Still, activism has continued around campus over other recent events. A few weeks ago, SOUL staged a demonstration highlighting a recent case at the University of Virginia where a black student was held to the ground by police, even as he was bleeding from the head. Last week, students from the Penn African Student Association, students majoring in African Studies and members of SOUL organized a demonstration at College Palooza in protest of the closing of the Penn Africa Center.
Even so, there has not been a protest around the incident in South Carolina.Comments powered by Disqus
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