North Texas Daily

Groups gather to discuss police brutality, deaths

Groups gather to discuss police brutality, deaths

February 19
00:54 2015

Julian Gill / Staff Writer

The Student Government Association, Black Student Union, NAACP, Peacebuilding Support office, International Socialist Organization and the Organization for Equity and Diversity recruited five UNT affiliates active in the local community to serve on a panel leading a discussion about social justice in the Auditorium Wednesday night.

SGA chief officer for ethnic diversity Hanna Bagheri said the event is a follow up to the campus “die in” on Dec. 4, sparked by recent controversy over the Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin killings.

“At the end of the day, these subjects are very pertinent to student life,” Bagheri said.

The event titled “I could be next” started off with senior Roderick Parker reciting a spoken word piece followed by an activity called “the Race of Life.”

Teresa McKinney, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and moderator of the event, lined up 10 students in front of the stage and gave instructions: “If you have a parent or grandparent that was lynched, step forward.”

After a series of similar questions, McKinney said the student’s final positions were meant to highlight the “baggage” minorities carry that is beyond their control.

“As we move towards a more diverse campus, we’re being more thoughtful about the differences we have,” McKinney said.

McKinney asked the panel, consisting of Mercedes Fulbright, Charles O’ Neal, Mariela Nunez-Janes, Lawrence Billy Jones and Marlon Davis, questions regarding racial profiling, police brutality, criminalization of minorities and civic engagement.

Davis is a biology junior and a member of the International Socialist Organization. He said events like these are important for students.

“When these things aren’t discussed it only gets worse,” he said. “We have to understand the situation in order to change it.”

The discussion concluded with a call to action led by the president of the Black Student Union, Cherita Cunningham, and a saxophone performance by associate professor of music Brad Leali.

“A lot of students are living here and the university can ensure they feel safe in their home by having programs and discussions like this,” said Cunningham.

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