Approximately two dozen individuals gathered Monday afternoon at the wall outside McMurran Hall to offer a protest against violence against blacks by police police.
Organizer Fran Brolle indicated that the protesters were not members of any particular group but are simply concered about the violence against not only blacks, but Muslims and Jewish people as well.
Brolle explained her goal saying, “This is something I have wanted to do for months, but was unable to get together before now. I am very concerned about the number of African American males who are being killed by police enforcement. I’m also concerned about the disproportionate number of African Americans in the prison system. I simply want to increase awareness to this issue.”
Brolle cited statistics from the Washington Post indicating that of the U.S. population, 62 percent are white and 13 percent are black. Members of that African American population are two and half times more likely to be shot by police, she said.
While statistics also show that more whites are actually killed by police than blacks, the percentages are disproportionate.
Brolle gave further statistics indicating that of the 991 fatal shootings by police in 2015, 24 percent of those were black. In 2016, 963 fatal shootings at the hands of police also had a 24 percent black fatality rate.
Brolle further explained that issues such as voter suppression and the seeking of the death penalty more often against blacks also are concerns for her.
“The race of the victim often influences whether the death penalty is sought,” Brolle said. The General Accounting Office of Statistics, she said, shows that if a vicitm is white, the death penalty more often comes into play.
Brolle was quick to say that her intention was not to offend anyone, but to simply help make people aware of these issues that were a concern to her.
“On President’s Day, during Black History Month,” Brolle said, “what better day could we pick?”
Others at the protest were very vocal in saying that the Black Lives Matter movement was in no way responsible for any retaliation against police officers around the country. One gentleman in particular spoke vehemently about right wing extremists but he refused to give his name.
“It’s not true that any police killings were associated with Black Lives Matter,” Brolle insisted, again citing sources such as the ACLU and the Washington Post as well as an opinion piece from the editorial staff of the New York Times.
Members of the protest handed out bookmarks provided by the Shepherdstown Library listing books by African American authors in honor of Black History Month. Down the street, at the Green Pineapple, folks provided post cards that could be sent to President Trump voicing concerns citizens may have.
Brolle reiterated that it was not her intent to offend.
“This is not not an anti-white thing,” she said. “Pretty much everybody that’s here looks pretty white to me,” she said. “We just hope to raise some consciousness and reach some people,” she added.