Marchers denounce police brutality

By
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A large group of students marched around the Main Green and across campus yesterday afternoon in response to an alleged incident of police misconduct that occurred over the weekend. One organizer estimated 200 students took part in the march.

Chanting various slogans – including, “Stop it now! Stop the brutality!” – the enthusiastic group handed out flyers about the alleged incident of police brutality against Chipalo Street ’06 GS that occurred early Sunday morning at the intersection of Thayer and Waterman streets.

In an encounter with officers from both the Department of Public Safety and the Providence Police Department, Street says he was assaulted and pepper-sprayed after he refused to present his ID to several officers outside Wayland Arch. Street said in a meeting Monday night that he was charged with two misdemeanors following the incident – for resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.

Most marchers walked with band-aids over their left eyes, a gesture that symbolized “unity as a group of students of color,” according to Herald Opinions Columnist Michael Ramos-Lynch ’09, who was among the marchers.

At times the marchers seemed uncertain about where they were headed next and when they would stop to hear a speaker.

Theresa McGowan ’08 was among those who led the group around the Main Green and Wriston Quadrangle. Outside Wayland Arch, McGowan addressed the crowd and referred to Street’s allegations. “He was assaulted on this campus. … He was attacked from behind. … He cried for help,” she said to the group of protestors and onlookers.

McGowan then touched on the issue of race as she addressed the marchers, who were mostly students of color.

“We don’t want no racism on Brown’s campus, we don’t want no police stopping us because they think we can’t go to Brown. … Brown is brown,” McGowan said.

“This doesn’t end today. This is ongoing until we get change,” she said.

The marchers then returned to the Main Green, where McGowan again addressed the crowd, saying: “They claim they don’t know what a Brown student looks like – lets show them what a Brown student looks like.”

Other marchers were blunter about their reasons for attending. I’m here to “stop the f*cking police brutality,” said Kai Morrison ’07. She said police brutality is happening all over the country, even on the campus of a supposedly liberal institution like Brown.

After McGowan spoke, the marchers took to the streets chanting “Brown is brown.” They walked to DPS Headquarters at 75 Charlesfield St. and the PPD’s Brook Street substation.

“Today’s demonstration was the first step in a larger effort to draw attention to police brutality and harassment on this campus,” said Jalle Dafa ’07, speaking Tuesday evening on behalf of the group of students organizing against the alleged police brutality.

“We are committed to bringing about a better relationship between Brown students and (DPS) and (the PPD). We believe that Brown can be a community free of racism, intimidation and violence,” she said.

Dafa said the group has set up an e-mail account to which students who have experienced or witnessed police harassment can send in their stories.