A group of 20 or more high school and college students gathered on Monument Circle Monday to draw attention to what they feel is the injustice of racial discrimination in our society.
The protest idea came from the ongoing tension that has risen to the surface following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri Aug. 9. While the details of the events that lead to a Caucasian police officer shooting an unarmed black teenager six times may never be completely known, the incident has sparked a firestorm of racial discrimination rhetoric around the country.
It’s that tension, three weeks later, which gave inspiration to the group standing outside in rainy humid conditions on a day out of school.
“If you can change the way you think, then you can change society. It has to start somewhere, so why not here?” said Lilly Crews, one of the student organizers from Herron High School.
Students stood on the north side of the monument facing traffic on Meridian Street with handmade signs bearing messages like, “Equality Now” and “Change the way you think of others.” A few students shouted at passersby asking them if this was the type of society we wanted to raise our children in.
The students thought Monday would be a good day to spread their message, hoping to capture the attention of a large crowd enjoying the holiday. Unfortunately without a sporting event or a festival to attend, the downtown foot traffic was sparse at best. “We got one thumbs down and one lady flipped us off, but overall the public response has been positive,” said Crews.
Despite the low numbers, the group did get some attention from people taking in the sights of downtown Indianapolis, including a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks, a faith very familiar with the fight against oppression and the call for equality.
“We believe that if just one person takes our message to heart and changes the way we think then our efforts are a success,” said Crews. “It takes just one person to start to change the world.”