BSU holds vigil for victims of police brutality

Shennel Sanyolu/ Contributing Writer

Photo Credit/ Stephanie Espaillat

At FIU, our diversity is our strength, according to Larry Lunsford, vice president of Student Affairs.

These words were sent in a mass email to the student body in response to Wednesday’s vigil hosted by Black Student Union.

The vigil began with a gospel song, by Kirk Franklin, echoing through the candlelit pit in the Graham Center. Students and faculty gathered around the Pit, where they engaged in a forum-style discussion and mourned with the nation the death of Alton Sterling.

Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black male, was shot dead after an altercation with two police officers outside of Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, early Tuesday morning. With permission from the store owner, Sterling was selling CDs outside of the convenience store where the altercation and subsequent shooting were recorded. The video went viral.

The two police officers are currently on paid administrative leave as the investigation, conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, continues.

At the vigil, students and faculty members expressed their feelings of frustration and hopelessness.

Associate director of Multicultural Programs and Services, Janice Spann-Givens, reacted to the incident saying “For me it’s a lot of disappointment in our society. We don’t recognize that there is a problem. When something happens once, we can say it’s a coincidence; when something happens twice … OK, but when something’s happening on a recurring basis, the same type of scenarios, we have to grasp hold of the fact that yes, we really do have a problem.”

Givens, or Mama G as she is known at FIU, expressed her pain in regards to recent events, “I am angry. I am disgusted. I am hurt. I am disappointed that we are moving [to] a place that’s not good for any of us.”

Givens also said that students should not be complacent because situations aren’t as bad as they may have been generations ago.

“Racism is alive, even here at the University,” Givens said. “Take it from conversation to: what can we do?”

This shooting follows a string of police shootings, involving young Black males around the nation, and has attracted national news attention.

The vice president for Student Affairs stated, in his message to the student body, FIU’s commitment “to fostering understanding and open dialogue about racism among our students and the community as a whole.”

Amber Clark, a recreational therapy major, says “FIU students can be more active by attending events like this [and] speaking up … We are here to let you know that we do matter; we are here. We are part of this country.”

The vigil concluded with students holding hands in a circle praying for a resolution.


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