STORY BY GRACE ROGERS
On Aug. 9, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson. Differing accounts of what occurred that night circulated, and a grand jury was called to decide whether or not to indict Wilson for the shooting.
On Nov. 24, the grand jury decided there would be no indictment.
There has been unrest throughout the country following the announcement, and Drake students have expressed their concern.
“I don’t think anybody that has been following the situation in Ferguson is terribly surprised,” said Josh Mascharka, a junior rhetoric and the study of culture and society double major. “It sort of just exemplifies how we have a failed legal system. You have dozens of witnesses that watch a cop shoot an unarmed black kid, and the legal system refuses to even indict, when actually getting an indictment happens in almost every single case.”
Mascharka’s disbelief continued over the lack of indictment.
“You have to have barely any evidence to indict somebody,” Mascharka said. “It’s just, ‘is there enough evidence to take this to trial?’ Considering the amount of evidence there was, there’s no way that they don’t have enough evidence to go to trial. It’s sort of absurd.”
Other people wish to continue the conversation around Drake.
“I’ve had lots of conversations with students about what’s going on in Ferguson, mostly with students who are multi-racial or black,” said Tony Tyler, Director of Olmsted Center Operations. “We talked about what’s going on and justice in America and its interaction with people of color. I think everyone — whether white, black, Latino, multi-racial, whatever — can be thinking of issues of race in America and justice, and how far we have and haven’t progressed.”
Mascharka traveled to Ferguson to protest, he was arrested in Ferguson for disturbing the peace by the Saint Louis County Police Department. Mascharka also started a march on Drake’s campus after the announcement.
“That night, we got together about 15 people and marched through Drake’s campus and down University (Ave.) through the street to about 24 street and then we came back,” Mascharka said. “But other than that, Drake hasn’t done anything. The purpose of the march was mostly to get out frustration, but also to stand in solidarity with other communities that were having marches that same night.”
To Mascharka, it is important that Drake illustrates its involvement.
“(We marched) to show that there’s at least a small contingent at Drake that stands against systemic abuse of power,” Mascharka said.
Becca Cohen is a sophomore marketing and finance double major. She is from St. Louis, which is the county Ferguson is located in.
“Ferguson has definitely affected just the atmosphere of St. Louis,” Cohen said. “I think it’s definitely bringing light to the issues of race and how racial issues still exist today. I think it’s bringing light to the amount of power police officers have and providing different sides to the argument.”
Mascharka encourages students to express concern and take action.
“I think that becoming more involved doesn’t necessarily mean that you go to Ferguson or anything like that,” Mascharka said. “It means that you start a similar thing in your own city that stands against police violence and stands against systemic abuse of power and racism.”