Education

Fists raised in UCLA protest against systemic racism in US

By Alex Segura Lozano

Los Angeles, US, June 4 (efe-epa).- Trisden Shaw has lived a large part of his life in fear of being attacked or killed by the police solely because of the color of his skin. Now, with a book in one hand and a raised fist, he leads a protest of nearly 2,000 students from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The campus’ Royce Hall, deserted in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic, was on Thursday the scene of a massive, multiracial demonstration against the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and dozens of others at the hands of US police.

The United States National Guard cannot enter the university campus so young people feel safer to express their anger at the use of police violence against minorities, shouting slogans such as “No justice, no peace!”

Despite being held during the wave of protests over the murder of Floyd in Minneapolis, Shaw and his battle companion, Mason Foster, both from the Black Graduate Student Association, insist that the central claim to those protesting at UCLA is that justice be achieved for all African-Americans who have died from police violence.

One of them is Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American who was fatally shot in March by Louisville, Kentucky, police officers in her own apartment after being mistaken for a member of a drug trafficking network.

Throughout the demonstration other names such as those of Trayvon Martin, who was killed in Sanford, Florida, Philando Castile, in Falcon Height, Minnesota, and Sandra Bland, in Hempstead, Texas, were also remembered.

Of the nearly 2,000 people present, more than three-quarters were students or teachers of various races and ethnicities, a group of people that Foster and Shaw defined as a necessary rainbow coalition.

“I think black folks have been deprived of allies for a very, very, very long time… The police might not be as… merciful with some of us, to some of our community as they will with others. And for those that understand their privilege and are willing to utilize it, it helps to protect us,” added the 23-year-old, referring to hundreds of white students who came to the demonstration.

“White silence is violence,” “Asians with our black brothers,” and “Latin force with you,” were some of the messages on the banners, T-shirts and masks of the protesters.

Another of the demands of the student protest, which ended in front of the police department of the university, was the redistribution of public funds, both at local and state levels, to cut funding for law enforcement officers and increase social programs for minorities.

Shaw is clear: “We need to think of different ways and different strategies, and that is what abolition democracy is. It is the dismantling of institutions, but it’s also the restructuring and the recreation, the reconstruction of different things in its place, different social programs that are people focused.”

He argues this from experience and knowledge, since he was an excellent student of political science and government at the University of Nevada at Reno, which he currently complements with a Master’s in African American Studies at UCLA.

With a book at hand and his fist held high, Shaw and his classmates seek to be the voice of those who the police silenced with shots or asphyxiation techniques. EFE-EPA

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