U Students Stay Silent in March to Protest Injustice

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Cole Tan

(Photo by Cole Tan)

By Mary Royal

(Photo by Cole Tan)
(Photo by Cole Tan)

 

On Tuesday a group of more than 100 students protested at the Social Work building, marching across campus against all forms of injustice.

The march was designed to be silent and non-violent. Organizers of the event said they wanted only the facts and the quotes on their signs to speak to their purpose. They hoped to stand together as students, faculty, staff and citizens.

The group aimed to raise awareness for anyone passing by if they read the signs and thought about the quotes. A few times, passersby joined in the march.

Sue Ativalu, a graduate student in the College of Social Work, said the march materialized as a response to the recent shootings involving black youths as well as a history of racial disparities in the American legal system.

“The purpose of the event is two-fold,” Ativalu said. “First, it’s to stand together and be a witness to the reality of racial violence and injustice. It is unacceptable that people are still being treated differently or negatively because of the color of their skin … Secondly, we are also hoping that this helps to open more conversations and dialog with community members, the university community and community partners, like the police, so that we can work together to address these issues.”

Ativalu also said the message of the march serves as a challenge to people who think you can either be for the police or for Michael Brown, Tamir Rice or Eric Garner, some of those recently killed by police officers. Ativalu said ideology polarizes the nation.

“I want to be clear that this demonstration is not against police,” Ativalu said. “The hope is that we work together for change, so that the color of your skin and the perception of what that color means isn’t a factor in how you are treated by the legal system.”

Fernanda Martins-Nguyen, a graduate student in social work, said she got involved in the march to raise awareness of both local and nationwide injustices.

“Racism is still very real in our world today,” Martins-Nguyen said. “A walk of this nature will spread that awareness to other U students and to the greater Salt Lake community as well.”

Martins-Nguyen echoed the sentiments of Ativalu, emphasizing the non-polar nature of silent march.

“It is not one side versus the other,” Martins-Nguyen said. “The world is not black and white; there are a lot of gray areas. We all need to work together and have open dialogues about race and injustice in our society.”

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