Students from Savannah State University say they will march through downtown Savannah this weekend to protest the death of an unarmed black teenager in Missouri.
Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9. His death has sparked days of clashes between protestors and police in the St. Louis suburb.
Dance major Ja’Andra Wheeler says organizers of rallies in Savannah and several other cities are using the hashtag #ITSBIGGERTHANYOU to call attention to the death of Michael Brown.
“A lot of people have not woken up to realize that there’s other things going on around them, especially things like this that could affect anyone – not just what’s going on in Ferguson right now,’” Wheeler says. “It could be happening anywhere.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by Maurice Nelson, president of Savannah State’s NAACP chapter. He says he wants to raise awareness of the ways racial prejudice can shape daily interactions.
“I know people that are of other races that like me in particular. But then when I see them interact with other African American people – that may have a different personality, may come from a different economic background, or even a different educational background – they treat them differently because they’re pre-judged based on either their circumstance or their appearance,” he says. “That same thing translates into dealing with police and the community in general.”
Ayana Tiller, a math education student at Savannah State, says the plan is to hold a peaceful protest on Saturday morning.
“We’re not angry with the police. We’re not trying to fight back in a negative manner; we want to fight back in a positive manner,” Tiller says. “And that’s basically the big theme of everybody coming together is to fight back in a positive way to make sure we receive justice, not only for Mike Brown, but for any other victim who has fallen victim to police brutality.”
Organizers say they’ll meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at Reynolds Square and then march along Bay Street in downtown Savannah.