‘Die-In’ Protest of Ferguson Decision Blocks Mass Ave. Traffic

Students protesting the decision of a Ferguson grand jury lay down in Harvard Square on Monday afternoon, blocking traffic.
Students protesting the decision of a Ferguson grand jury lay down in Harvard Square on Monday afternoon, blocking traffic. –Kevin Doyle/Instagram

Hundreds of protestors blocked the streets near the Harvard campus Monday afternoon protesting the Ferguson Grand Jury decision not to indict a Ferguson police officer for the killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Just after noon, Harvard Law School students gathered for a “Hands Up, Walk Out’’ event to listen to speakers, hold signs, and fight what they called systemic, racist problems in the criminal justice system.

The name of the protest was a combination of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’’ hand gestures that have been used to call attention to Brown’s death and an encouragement for students to walk out of classes to participate.

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The crowd included students from Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School, the Grad School of Education, along with sympathizers from the public.

Demonstrators also held a “die-in’’ during the event, in which students lay down on the ground for four-and-a-half minutes to represent the number of hours that Brown’s body remained in the street after he was killed.

A group of high school students from Cambridge Rindge and Latin also joined demonstrations and organized a related protest by blocking Massachusetts Avenue and lying in the street.

Harvard Law School students took a leading role in the protest because they play a crucial role in the legal system’s future, Law student Rebecca Nahmias Chapman, an organizer of the event, said to DigBoston:

“Perhaps uniquely, law students and lawyers understand how the law operates and that, despite what we are sometimes taught in law school, law is not neutral. … This movement is not just about ending police brutality. Rather, it understands that the brutality of the police is merely one symptom of an underlying illness in the law. The law does not protect everyone equally.’’

The street-blocking protest comes less than a week after a larger event stopped traffic along the Massachusetts Avenue Connector and on Boylston Street.

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