NEW HAVEN - A group calling themselves Ferguson Action scheduled a nationwide walkout on Monday, encouraging those on college campuses and in their work places to walk out of whatever building they were in at 1:01 p.m. with their hands up. The action was meant as a protest of the lack of an indictment of former Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of teenager Michael Brown.
The group is also seeking justice in the killings of Akai Gurley in New York, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.
The group spread the word via social media, utilizing hashtags to organize the movement. From the Shut It Down actions, which blocked major highways and intersections last week, to the Blackout Black Friday protests, the message is clear.
On the group's website, www.FergusonAction.com, the group states, “We can no longer do what we have always done and cooperate with a system that does not respect Black Lives (sic). We will only get the change we want if we disrupt the daily order and insists that Black Lives Matter. If that means shutting down the entire country, that’s what we’ll do.”
Ronald Pierce, the president of the University of New Haven's NAACP chapter, says America's not as far along as people think with regard to race relations. That's precisely why he has taken on a leadership role on the West Haven campus. “These protests are not geared solely toward the death of Mike Brown,” said Pierce, who is from Philadelphia. “ They are geared toward the years and years that we've been faced with police brutality, with inequality in our schools, inequality in our justice system.”
Pierce's biggest issue with how Officer Darren Wilson's duel with Brown went down is that an unarmed teenager was shot multiple times. “When people say he [Brown] stole something from a convenience store, I almost feel like people are losing their humanity because, at the same time, I'm sure people who have stolen things that they shouldn't have taken don't think that they should've died for it,” said Pierce.
Wilson's testimony was corroborated by unnamed witnesses who said that Brown charged the officer and had one hand inside his waist band.
“Even under those circumstances, police are trained to do other things and not to just resort to shooting,” said Pierce.
Hands Up walkouts were also held at Yale University, Quinnipiac University, Wesleyan University and UConn.