Images by Emily Hopkins
By 1:15pm this afternoon, only a couple dozen Boston University students had gathered on Marsh Plaza for a #HandsUpWalkOut action to show support for Michael Brown and other victims of racism and police brutality. After a few chants directed at no one in particular, some speak-outs from people in the crowd (including professors from the African American Studies department and the School of Theology) — and, of course, several invocations of favorite BU alum Martin Luther King, Jr. — the crowd began to slowly fade.
Then it hit. A wall of sound made up of several dozen high school students from Boston Arts Academy and Codman Academy blazed through the area, their energy radiating. It was a compelling force, people chanting in unison and breaking off in conversations. Onlookers hardly knew what to do with such a disruption on campus.
The group, led by 17-year-old Nadia Issa, began in the Fenway area with less than a dozen heads. They then stormed down Comm Ave like an avalanche, picking up supporters as they went along. Just after the BU Central T stop, demonstrators made a U-turn towards Boston Common, chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and mimicking the sound of police sirens. One student broke out into a rendition of KRS-One’s “Sound of da Police.”
Only about eight bike cops rode along with the crowd until they hit the Charlesgate Bridge, where the Massachusetts State Police joined the party. At Newbury Street and down Boylston, the protest, which by then had swollen to more than 80, took to the blacktop. Several passersby greeted the teens by throwing their hands up in support; in other cases, horns honked and car stereos were turned up.
Once on the Common, the peaceful swarm stopped for a four-and-a-half minute moment of silence, each minute representing an hour that Michael Brown’s body laid on the pavement in Ferguson. The crowd dispersed soon after, but not before taking a group photo to share with countless peers across the country who were also brave enough to march out and speak up.