WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Around 100 Winston-Salem State University students gathered Thursday night to honor a Missouri teen killed over the weekend and voice their frustrations over police violence.
The group held a moment of silence for Michael Brown, whose death has sparked a series of protests in Ferguson, Mo. outside of St. Louis.
Brown was unarmed and many in the crowd Thursday believe deadly force by the police officer was an overreaction.
On Wednesday night, those protests resulted in shocking confrontations between protestors and police in Missouri which prompted questions and reaction across the country.
“What can you expect when the people that are supposed to protect you are pointing guns at you?” asked Olivia Sedwick, a senior and student government president at WSSU.
Sedwick said they fielded enough questions from incoming freshman on campus for orientation that they felt the rally was important.
“We have a population that is primarily African American,” said Sedwick. “We understand that police brutality primarily affects African American people — specifically young black men.”
Sedwick was not the only class leader hoping to inspire younger students through the rally.
“I think these issues will start to die down if we stand up together and show that we are unified,” said Eric Johnson, a WSSU student. ”We will not stand for brutality and we will not stand to be mistreated. I think we are more important than that.”
Sedwick said the demonstration was never intended to be anything but peaceful.
“We have no want, need or desire to be destructive of the place we call home,” said Sedwick.