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BSU Gives Voice to Voiceless

Karina Krul

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Police brutality is an epidemic sweeping the country, and while many stories are being heard, many more are being silenced. So far this year 736 people have lost their lives to police brutality. 320 of them were minorities and 178 of them were African Americans. 201 of them were unarmed. 12 of them were under the age of 18. These are scary numbers, yet few people know the true extent of this problem. That is what needs to change.

The Black Student Union, on Wednesday October 5 from 8:30-10 p.m., held a memorial event entitled “#justicefor” for all African American lives lost to police brutality. The event was co-hosted by SIA, NAACP, Phi Beta Sigma, ELITE Step Team, WRITE Poetry, CRU, and OPB.

The event was designed as a way to bring attention to the many deaths that went unnoticed by the public. It brought together the U.N.H. students in attendance to remember those lost and served as a reminder of why it is so important to speak out.

The event began in the Alumni Annex for a presentation and discussion. The presentation included the reading of a poem by president of W.R.I.T.E. poetry as well as two short videos, a speech from the 1959 NAACP convention and ‘Our Lives Matter’, which featured young African American males holding poster boards designed to look like targets. Most heart-wrenching of the presentation was the reading of victim’s names by the President and Vice President of BSU. This gave a name to the nameless victims often forgotten.

Following the presentation there was an open discussion, centered on three questions. Students had the opportunity to share their own police brutality stories as well as discuss the implications of a hashtag for a movement and think about how U.N.H. handles the discussion and acknowledgement of police brutality cases.

“We want to create a safe space and open discussion,” BSU president Mackenzie Upshaw said before opening the floor for discussion.

Vice President of BSU, Tamara Torres, offered advice during the discussion saying, “We need to bring together the U.N.H. community and come together as one.”

The night ended with a candlelight vigil next to the BSU rock on the Bix/Bot Quad. Members of Campus Crusade for Christ lead a prayer while students gathered around with electric candles and students also began to sing as students placed their candles on the BSU rock.

This memorial hit home with a lot of students in attendance. Many know people who have had to go through police brutality, and even more have family members they are reminded of when these events are brought up.

“I have nephews, brothers, cousins, all around the same age. It is heartbreaking that I need to fear for their lives every time they leave the house. We need to show the world that we see this happening and we care,” says Torres.

Upshaw has similar views saying, “This is an issue that affects the multicultural community yet is not always expressed to the best of our abilities. Many students are angry or upset and they need a way to express that.”

The night was a huge success, bringing together the community to remember those who typically get forgotten. Although the night was a success, Upshaw is upset that the turn-out included mainly multi-cultural RSOs. All RSOs were invited weeks in advance and BSU was hoping for more of a campus-wide response. This only shows that U.N.H. as a campus community needs to strive to do more to recognize these important issues and unite behind them.  

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BSU Gives Voice to Voiceless