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UNT students stand for Keith Scott and Terence Crutcher

UNT students stand for Keith Scott and Terence Crutcher

09/22/2016 Expressive, hand-written posters line Willis Library in the library mall. Senior psychology student Jazmine McGill, with the help of a few friends, organized the event. She decided to ask students to write out their thoughts after several traumatic events, within 48 hours, happened in the black community. “I wanted to do something for the black community at UNT,” McGill said. The silent protest has caught the attention of many passersby on campus. Credit: Hannah Breland

UNT students stand for Keith Scott and Terence Crutcher
September 22
23:18 2016

Wednesday morning, sociology senior Jazmine McGill woke up disturbed by the deaths of Keith Scott in Charolette, North Carolina, and Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Around 11 a.m. that day, McGill took her grief to campus with markers and poster boards to initiate dialog around this issue.

“I did it because several traumatic events occurred in the black community in the span of 48 hours and this is the second time that’s happened in about four months, on a scale where most black people are impacted,” McGill said.

Keith Scott was shot after officers found him with a handgun and mistook him for a suspect they were after. Officers said Scott failed to drop his gun and that he posed a threat to them. Terence Crutcher, on the other hand, encountered officer Better Shelby and walked away from her with his hands in the air. A moment later, he dropped to the ground. Officers were originally called out to the area to inspect an abandoned vehicle.

By using posters and markers to start conversations on the issue, McGill was trying to go about the issue in a peaceful, calm way. She stood in front of Willis Library from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 21. The next day, she stood out there again. The poster boards started relatively blank. As days passed, students were invited to write their own comments about the Black Lives Matter movement. Public relations junior Erin Kennard wrote “RIP Trayvon” on a poster board Thursday morning.

“It’s a very uncomfortable situation because it happens a lot without any solutions,” Kennard said. “People are mad about Kaepernik, but not this.”

Adding to discomfort and sorrow relating to issues and topics such as black Americans being shot by police and San Francison 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick’s sitting during the national anthem, sports broadcast junior Amani Balowa took a knee in a Kaepernick jersey in front of Willis.

Balowa joined McGill Wednesday to help cultivate dialog surrounding this issue in order to raise awareness.

“I woke up with a lot on [my] mind and I wanted to show people what’s going on,” Balowa said.

For McGill, these tragedies aren’t something she turns a blind eye to. The protest was a way to educate the community on issues they may not otherwise know about.

While some people just hear about these shootings on the news, McGill said these issues resonate deeper with her.

“People expect you to come back to school and work and act like you’re okay, like there’s no accumulative effect of those experiences,” McGill said. “It’s one way to aid in our dehumanization.”

McGill’s goal was to create a space where discussions and reactions can be had. A place where “real feelings can address real violence” happening in the world. During both days, she said her ultimate goal was achieved – to have students engage in passionate discourses. Some even shared their grief and concern for this growing issue that seems to be affecting many black families across the nation.

According to McGill, students took it upon themselves to bring water and lead discussions with passing students in order to help build community among those who care deeply about this issue.

As the days go on, more people added to the posters on the walls of Willis.

“It’s distressing to watch these videos of your people, people who look like your family or could be your family, being murdered by authorities,” McGill said. “I wanted to do something for the black community at UNT.”

Featured Image: Expressive, hand-written posters line Willis Library in the library mall. Psychology senior Jazmine McGill, with the help of a few friends, organized the event. She decided to ask students to write out their thoughts after several traumatic events, within 48 hours, happened in the black community. Hannah Breland

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