Assistant Arts Editor
Students and faculty of various ethnicities gathered in front of the Enrollment Management Building on First Street and E Street Wednesday morning. Some carried signs with slogans such as “No more hashtags” and “All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter.”
The Black Lives Matter march at ULV was organized by the Black Student Union, Latino Student Forum, Multicultural Club and Common Ground as a stand against police brutality against African-Americans.
BSU preceded the march with two days of events including a meeting on the topic of stereotypes Monday and a Black Lives Matter forum on Tuesday.
The three days of awareness activities spearheaded by BSU were dubbed “Black Lives Matter Awareness Week.” ASULV Senator At-Large, Multicultural Club Council president and senior kinesiology major Jarrett Mason was a driving force in organizing the events.
To prepare for Wednesday’s march, BSU applied for a permit from city of La Verne, per city protocol for so-called protests.
The permit request was actually denied – despite the fact that coordinators called the march a peace walk – but the University supported the march over the city’s objections.
“There is no us and them, it is all of us and we have to demand that to be acknowledged,” said Erica Eddings, assistant director of career services and an adviser for BSU.
Small towns like La Verne do not have many protests, but BSU member and sophomore speech communications major Kyerra Green believes it is important for even the smallest communities that are not a part of the problem to be part of the solution.
“The police department said there’s no police brutality around here, but … in L.A. there is,” Green said.
BSU secretary and sophomore anthropology major Zimanei Slocum led chants during the march.
“When I say my brother, you say your brother,” Slocum yelled. “No justice, no peace,” she shouted into a megaphone.
“I am tired of worrying if my brother will come home,” Slocum said at another point during the march.
More than 50 protesters joined the march, and the group picked up additional people along the route. Church of Brethren members waited on Third Street and D streets with their own posters, and joined marchers.
“We can teach the police compassion,” said ULV alumna Rev. Jeanette Williams, who participated in the march.
Williams used to do ride-alongs for 151 calls, police jargon for an officer killed or injured.
Williams also marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1956 during the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama and continues to be an advocate for Black rights with the current generation.
BSU President and junior psychology major Michael Hill said that he never dreamed this many people participate.
“Today was different from the norm, but the conversations we had need to be taken outside of this event as well,” Hill said. “People need to show up to the solutions as well as voice their problems or we will be doing things like this for a long time.”
BSU member and junior psychology major Jedaun Carter said being adolescent and in a small sheltered community, she did not know what to expect.
“I did have a lot of fear,” Carter said. “A lot of these things don’t end well, but when I saw all the people that joined in behind us and the people from Church of Brethren on the corner I knew we’d be OK.”
BSU meetings are held at 10 p.m. every Monday in the President’s Dining Room.
Tyler Evains can be reached at email@example.com.