A little before 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, students wearing all black filed out of the Schine Student Center of Syracuse University and lined up in rows of three along the promenade.
The first row held a sign of the 201 names of Black people who have died from police and law enforcement brutality.
Each person wore a white piece of paper with the name of a Black person who had been killed or with a reason as to how a person had died because of law enforcement. Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray and Amadou Diallo were some of the names written, and one of the papers read:
"I was killed at a routine traffic stop."
This group of students got together to hold a die-in on the main campus walkway to represent the bodies of Black and Brown people who are killed by law enforcement. At 12:30 p.m., all of the students dropped to the ground to visually represent all of the dead bodies.
For the next 10 minutes, students laid on the ground and did not move. Their signs stood out from their black clothing; the air was silent out of respect.
Students and passersby stopped to take in the scene, take pictures, and show support. Murmurs of "What's going on?" were responded to with explanations of the event. When one person asked, "Who are the names on the papers?," another student nearby responded with:
"The ignorance is the saddest part of this whole demonstration."
One of the bystanders, a graduate student at the School of Information Studies who wishes to remain anonymous, was deeply saddened by the event, yet inspired by the school's support.
"I think it's amazing that Syracuse embraces the injustices of the African American community. This is a very creative way of showcasing how many African American lives have been lost this year by police officers that we essentially pay through our taxes. It's sad seeing all these bodies on the ground; these are the lives that could've made an impact on the world, but we will never know because their lives ended too soon."
Two students silently danced with tape across their mouths in honor of those lost.
After the 10 minutes passed, "Rise" was heard as the students slowly got up. The sound of "Wade in the Water," a traditional song that had been sung by slaves, was heard growing louder. The students then walked down the promenade and continued to sing.
It was a very respectful, touching, and shockingly visual demonstration that touched the hearts and minds of students, staff, and passersby who witnessed the event.
Lead Image Credit: Taylor Lang