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Group holds ‘die-in’ to honor Laquan McDonald

Group holds ‘die-in’ to honor Laquan McDonald

Senior Integrative Studies major Christy Medrano holds a sign during the “Die-In” demonstration on Monday afternoon at Library Mall. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

Group holds ‘die-in’ to honor Laquan McDonald
April 04
22:50 2016

Alexandria Reeves | Staff Writer

@alliereeves23

About 30 students laid still in Library Mall Monday to call attention to the death of teen Laquan McDonald, who was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, and to protest police brutality.

At about 5 p.m., the students paused for 16 minutes — one for each time McDonald was shot. The die-in, hosted by UNT’s Psychology Advocates for Social Change, was scheduled in conjunction with 16 other schools across the nation using the hashtag #Psychologists4BlackLives.

“The killing of Laquan McDonald is a symptom of the long standing neglect and chronic high mortality from all causes in our country’s neglected neighborhoods,” the hosting group said in a flyer posted around campus.

Many students who attended were moved to join by a large “Black Lives Matter” poster. Some were unaware of who McDonald was, but the graduate students educated those on his story, achieving one of their goals for this event.

McDonald was 17 when he was killed while armed with a three-inch knife. The officer was reported to have feared for his life upon discharging his weapon, according to media reports.

Die-ins have been used by many groups, like animal rights, gun control and environmental activists, to disrupt the flow of foot traffic, demanding the attention of those around them.

Participants lay on the ground during the “Die-In” demonstration for 16 minutes to represent the 16 bullets in Laquan McDonald and to raise awareness and conversation about the public mental health crisis resulting from police brutality. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

Participants lay on the ground during the “Die-In” demonstration for 16 minutes to represent the 16 bullets in Laquan McDonald and to raise awareness and conversation about the public mental health crisis resulting from police brutality. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

The Psychology Advocates for Social Change is a new group on campus comprised of graduate psychology students who advocate for equality, minorities and to eradicate institutionalized oppression, members said.

One of the organizers of the events, Amanda Phillips, said the group believes police use of lethal force in predominantly black neighborhoods is a public health crisis, because, among other things, it causes undue distress and anxiety.

The group plans to start a Facebook page and an OrgSync account, and will advocate throughout the upcoming semesters for a number of social justice issues, such as women’s rights and LGBT issues.

Footage of the fatal shooting was made public November 2015. McDonald was killed October 2014. Officer Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder a few hours after the video’s release. However, he is now out on bail and was recently hired on at a Chicago police union, to the outrage of the Chicago community and beyond.

Many of the protests denounce McDonald’s death and call for an institutional change on multiple levels, with the biggest call for change requesting that officers be held to a higher level of accountability. There have also been protests on how the case was handled. Many speculate a cover-up played a hand in the investigation, although no evidence has been produced to support that belief.

Psychology Advocates for Social Change hold up their sign before the “Die-In” began on Monday afternoon at Library Mall. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

Psychology Advocates for Social Change hold up their sign before the “Die-In” began on Monday afternoon at Library Mall. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

This form of protest has been used in Ferguson, Missouri, for the death of Michael Brown, as well as in New York City, for the killing of Eric Garner.

Christy Medrano, an integrative studies senior, held the “Black Lives Matter” sign which caught the attention of passersby.

“Today meant standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the fight against police brutality and anti-black racism,” Medrano said.

Featured Image: Integrative Studies senior Christy Medrano holds a sign during the “Die-In” demonstration on Monday afternoon at Library Mall. Sarah Bradbury | Staff Photographer

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