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Editorial: Finding our place in Ferguson

The movement surrounding Ferguson and Michael Brown’s death is not merely a controversial issue, it is a civil rights issue. According to data from ProPublica, young black men are “21 times as likely as their white peers to be killed by police.” Furthermore, “blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed (by police) at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.” The uproars over the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and 12-year-old Tamir Rice are indicative of the magnitude of police brutality and violence against black livelihood today.

The responses to these deaths have varied. Since Brown’s death on Aug. 9, the country has seen peaceful protests, police militarization, tear-gassing, looting and violent unrest. This civil disorder is complex. Thirty-second news clips, newspaper headlines and Facebook statuses cannot adequately encompass the social and political issues within these communities. But at the same time, these issues cannot be dismissed on the basis that there is no simple answer. Finding answers requires not only time and listening but also action.

After last week’s decision by a St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson for Brown’s shooting death, there were dozens of rallies, demonstrations and marches across the United States. Locally, the Providence Journal reported that protesters “marched peacefully from Central High School to the Providence police station on Tuesday when a group of about 100 to 150 people broke off and decided to go on the highway,” halting Interstate 95 for approximately half an hour. At Brown, student groups have organized a “die-in protest” scheduled for Monday afternoon on the Main Green. The description of a Facebook event created by representatives of the Black Ivy Coalition states that they plan to lie outstretched to “represent the black lives that have been lost in this country due to police brutality.”

These responses vary in size and impact but all play a role in the continued struggle for equity. Violence against black communities is evident in the statistics, experiences and deaths of young black men. Ferguson is not a controversy; it is a civil injustice, a social struggle and a fight for our generation. In order to reform a biased system, all of us, as students and residents of this country, all of whom are affected by violence against black communities, have a responsibility to act. Involvement, as we have seen over recent months, can look very different for each one of us, but it needs to come from all of us. We bring to this fight different knowledge, experiences and privileges that shape how we engage in this struggle. For some, acting may mean protesting. For others, it may mean donating to the Ferguson Municipal Public Library. For citizens, it means advocating for changes in policy and legislation. But we all need to make tangible contributions to stop the violence against black livelihood.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15, and its members, Natasha Bluth ’15, Manuel Contreras ’16, Baxter DiFabrizio ’15, Manuel Monti-Nussbaum ’15, Katherine Pollock ’16 and Himani Sood ’15. Send comments to


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