Sterling Giles & Niko Leiva
Slam Nahuatl, a VCU student poetry slam group, spearheaded a silent demonstration last Tuesday. mourning the death of Mike Brown. The group began its demonstration at about 1 p.m. in the compass on the Monroe Park campus. The event lasted for about an hour.
The demonstration is one of many that have occurred on campus and in the metro area in the past two weeks. Slam Nahuatl felt it was necessary to hold a demonstration of its own preceding one led by the NAACP VCU chapter last week.
Unlike the NAACP protest, Slam Nahuatl demonstrators remained silent and either hoisted their makeshift signs or held their hands up, a common theme in the Mike Brown protests. Additionally, a few students unaffiliated with Slam Nahuatl voluntarily participated in the protest.
Joshua Braunstein, the vice president of Slam Nahuatl, felt the silent protest was powerful and effective.
“A powerful physical motion of standing with your hands up as a sign of both protest really encapsulates a lot of peaceful protest,” Braunstein said.
However, Braunstein did express that he feels the United States as a community tends to possess “short-term memory” in regards to national issues.
“America has such a short-term memory when bad things happen, we get up in arms for a little bit,” the Slam Nahuatl vice president said. “So, it always seems we are reacting.”
Fanchon Sendolo, a volunteer student protester in the demonstration, seconded Braunstein’s theory regarding how the US community handles issues such as the Mike Brown murder.
“It unfortunately takes a teenager dying for us to say something and that’s reactive,” Sendolo said.
The string of recent cases of racially-motivated police brutality including the murder of Eric Garner this summer, and now the murder of Mike Brown have profoundly angered the national community, especially the African-American community.
Slam Nahuatl president Saidu Tejan-Thomas believes that the Mike Brown murder added fuel to the proverbial fire in regards to police brutality cases. He also believes that this time, unlike past cases, it will “culminate a change”.
“I don’t think it’s a quick fix. I think it’s going to take more than laws,” Tejan-Thomas said. “I think love is the beginning of every good thing that happens. If we can have that in our core as a society, then I feel people are able to talk to each other rather than make assumptions about each other,” he added.
Accompanying Slam Nuahatl were two other student organizations. Students for Social Action and the Feminist Student Organization contributed demonstrators and offered support.
“We hope to be peaceful in raising knowledge and making it aware that these people matter (victims of police brutality) and it could happen to us and on our campus,” said Brittany Maddox, a representative of Slam Nahuatl and the Feminst Student Organization.