Students stage 'die-in,' and protest at Winthrop University in Rock Hill
The atmosphere was charged but collected – impassioned one moment, somber the next.
Around 70 students gathered at Tillman Hall on Wednesday to vent and listen to one another in a discussion on race and politics.
The event began in the DiGiorgio Campus Center with a “die-in,” where students paid respect to black victims of police shootings by lying on the ground for 15 minutes of silence. The crowd later marched to Tillman Hall, the university’s administration building.
Their chants could be heard across campus:
“No justice, no peace! No racist police!”
“Black lives matter!”
“What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!
The students marched through the doors of Tillman Hall, and once inside, the protest volume and vitality reached a climax.
“I think we’re very visceral in the same way police brutality operates,” said protest coordinator Abigail Juarez. “I think it’s important to impact the public in this way.”
Everyone huddled up; those with something to say stood in the center of the pack.
Through a megaphone, protest coordinator Candace Livingston said, “This is not enough! But it’s enough for Rock Hill, Charlotte and South Carolina to see that we won’t stop!”
The protest turnout was diverse. Student Lauren Munson said, “I feel like, as a white person, I obviously can’t understand what it’s like to be a black American at this time, but I need to face the fact that people of color are more likely to be killed or arrested than white people. That is an issue I feel like we all need to work on together.”
Another student, Samantha Cherry, told the crowd she decided to study criminal law to help combat wrongful police shootings of black citizens. Surrounded by fellow demonstrators, Cherry fought back tears, saying, “We share the same emotions and pain. You are not alone.”
Emotional responses were not limited to students. Winthrop Provost Debra Boyd teared up when she took the floor.
“We talk about civil justice, but it’s nothing if we just talk about it,” Boyd said. “I am so proud to be an administrator when we have students like you.”
Faculty support of the demonstration contributed to the optimism and confidence among students.
TyQuan Butler said, “It’s clear that the faculty cares just as much as we do. That’s the reason we’re at Winthrop. We feel at home.”