Disagreements among students in Ferguson aftermath

Tyler McNeil

Creative Editor

While many across the country are expressing outrage over the grand jury’s failure to indict former police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, some students at Hudson Valley are focused on other sides of the story.

“I think [the riots are] all getting out of hand a bit, I don’t agree with what happened but it’s gone too far,” said Joe Patricelli, liberal arts major.

“I don’t think this is right. None of these riots have done justice for Michael Brown. If that’s what they’re going for, they’re wrong,” said Elijah Sturdivant, business administration major.

Damian Taylor, human services major has been studying Ferguson since it was brought up a month earlier in his journalism class. He said, “It’s all kind of f**ked up. The rioting has not really solved anything. This is a matter of defending social justice.”

The first wave of riots ensued from Aug. 9 to Aug. 25 leading the St. Charles County Regional SWAT Team and the National Guard to contain rioting breaking out along the streets of Ferguson. There has been another recent outbreak in peaceful protests and riots from the Nov. 24 verdict.

“Using violence is like disrespecting everyone who fought for civil rights,” said Dennis Dominguez, human services major.

Cylon George, campus ministry director wrote in a student announcement on Dec. 1 about the riots titled, “Thoughts from Campus Ministry: We Are One.” In his student announcement, George wrote about the history of racial tension in America, “We understand that the history of slavery and institutional racism casts a long shadow. This history bedevils us no matter how much we try to convince ourselves and others that we live in a ‘post-racial’ society.”

“It’s crazy what’s going on [in Ferguson] and I think despite how awful the riots may be, It’s equally as disgusting as all of the white people who think it’s okay to be racist towards the black community for what all small group of people have done,” said Brittany Gray, liberal arts major.

“I think the case would’ve been completely different if [the police officer] was black but because he was white, the jury found him not guilty,” Anthony Mook, individual studies major said.

Liana Crognale, broadcast communications student, believes that race should have little to do with this case. “It doesn’t even matter about race. Another human being killed another human being and they’re getting away with it,” she said.

The verdict has driven some students to question or defend law enforcement. “I feel like cops overuse their power,” said Dante Carr, electrical engineering major.

“There’s a lot of questions to ask from this case. It was a close encounter struggle. Unfortunately, it has gone from a matter of officer training to a race issue which is just ridiculous,” said Brian Filson, individual studies major.

Kelly Raymond, a broadcast communications reports to be friends with many officers of the law in her hometown of Guilderland and furthermore claims to take on the perspective of law enforcement officials. “Cops aren’t bad people and people need to get that out of their f**king heads. There’s a handful of bad cops that get away with this stuff and that’s not fair either,” she commented.

“99.9 percent of police officers are just doing their jobs every day and that’s overshadowed by ignorance and the belief that every cop is a racist murderer is no reason to burn buildings to the ground,” said Shawn Taylor, criminal justice major.

Another student in the criminal justice department, Richard Oyanedel said, “Everybody makes mistakes but they shouldn’t terrorize a police officer for one thing he did. The same people who are criticizing those police officers, those police officers are protecting the lives of those who against them.”

Since Nov. 24, after the verdict, people rallied in about 170 across the nation cities including Albany. The day after the verdict, a group of protesters gathered City Hall to the Federal Building on Pearl Street outraged the decision.

On Dec. 3, about 50 UAlbany students protested acrossed Washington Ave. against the Ferguson decision. UAlbany Deputy Chief of Police Aran Mull joined the protesters as a way of getting students off the road. Another protest amongst UAlbany students is scheduled for this Thursday.

Although Feguson protests have not reached Hudson Valley, the organized questioning of police brutality and racial tensions between minorities and law enforcement are not unknown to the campus. On Mar. 7, a public forum titled, “Getting Home Safe: Civility and Conduct after Midnight” discussing the recent incident involving the Troy Police at Kokopellis took place.

On Feb. 4, the Troy African American Pastoral Alliance filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice for the Troy police department’s operations on Jan. 25 at the Kokopelli’s nightclub involving suspected police brutality on tape.

On the same day, about 100 people took to the streets of Troy on Feb. 4 for a march against police brutality organized by Reverend Willie Bacote.

As the year comes to a close, demonstrations that have occurred Troy, Albany, continuing in Ferguson and across the country questioning the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities are escalating.

On Dec. 3, a grand jury decided not to indict officer Justin Pantaleo for the July 17 chokehold death of Eric Garner which created a new wave of chaos and activism.

30 protesters were arrested in New York City last Wednesday after clogging a bridge in protest of Garner’s death.

“I can see where the riots came from. They were coming eventually regardless whether it was the right thing to do or not. There’s been a lot of racial tension that a lot of people think has just gone away,” said Dan Cadiz, biological sciences major.

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