Saturday, December 6th, I attended the Atlanta Die-In rally organized by the Divine Nine (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity). It was not the only Die-In rally to take place as black alumni from across the country – including Orlando, Nashville, New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Washington, DC – staged similar rallies.
It was a powerful, peaceful protest that let the voices of the Greek organizations be heard. Taking place on the 17th Street bridge across from Atlantic Station, there was a police presence several hundred feet away, but at no time during the rally did the officers interfere.
Starting promptly at 3:00pm, everyone in attendance – approximately 200 people of all ages – lay on the sidewalk in silence for 15 1/2 minutes. The time was poignant; 11 minutes for each time Eric Garner proclaimed “I Can’t Breathe” and 4 1/2 minutes for the amount of hours Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after he was fatally shot by officer Daryl Wilson. As organizer Trisha Polite vocally counted down the time remaining, some protestors held up signs that read “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” while others held up their hands reminiscent of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” rally cry. Following the 15 1/2 minutes, the protesters took to their feet to chant “No Justice, No Peace”, “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice For All”.
The silence was deafening. All you could hear was the clicking of camera shutters and the occasional car horn honking in solidarity.
Racial inequality and unlawful, excessive use of force have become epidemics in this country that go hand in hand. I am glad that people of all races, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are speaking out, but the hardest thing will be: What’s the next step? How do we change this archaic and unequal system?
People can march, protest, pray and create hashtags until the cows come home, but all people must come together so everyone is treated as equals.
So, what’s your say? Sound off in the comments below (while being respectful of other commenters) and state what you feel is the next step to truly have “liberty and justice for all”.