On Thursday, Dec. 4, a large group of student leaders from UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union gathered on campus for a rally in response to the recent verdicts in the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Occupying the campus’ Golden Bear Cafe for 4.5 hours to symbolize the amount of time that Brown’s dead body laid in the streets of Ferguson, students came together for a sit-in wearing sweatshirts promoting the message “black power” and holding up signs that read “We can’t breathe,” to symbolize the choking death of Eric Garner.
Joining the student protesters was former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown. The 71-year-old activist spoke to the crowd about the importance of speaking up for freedom and justice, while other leaders followed her remarks with poetry reading or the sharing of their own personal stories of discrimination.
After Thursday’s peaceful protest, student leaders and other California residents continued the protest throughout the weekend, where demonstrations turned violent for the first time as authorities used tear gas, flares and rubber bullets to try and calm the growing crowd.
Using the hashtag #Ferguson2Cal, students posted pictures online from the protests and showed their solidarity for Brown, Garner and several other families who’ve experienced racial brutality and discrimination.