Peaceful march kicks off week of Ferguson-related events at KU

In front, from left, Kansas University students Chelsea Whiteside, Asha Musau, Caleb Bobo, along with nearly 50 others march from the Kansas Union through campus to the Burge Union, Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, to protest a recent grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo.

Kansas University students’ march through campus Monday night to protest the Ferguson decision was partly for others and partly for participants themselves.

“We’re not just going to sit by and be OK with the decision that the grand jury made,” said KU junior Asha Musau, a Black Student Union member who helped organize the march.

She said the goal was to raise awareness of the problem and also to give black students who are angry about the decision a way “to get their emotions out.”

Monday’s march drew roughly 50 participants who walked from the Kansas Union through campus to the Burge Union, many with hands up and carrying small lights.

The march kicked off a week of other events planned in response to a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who shot and killed black teen Michael Brown.

Plans include:

• A silent protest from 11:50 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. Tuesday outside Strong Hall.

• A social media campaign using the hashtag #KansasBlackOut on Wednesday.

• An open forum discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Kansas Union.

• A candlelight vigil with other Kansas college students at 8:30 p.m. Friday on the Washburn University campus in Topeka.

Before Monday’s march, KU junior Caleb Bobo, president of the KU Black Men’s Union, led participants in a moment of silence and reminded all to stay on the sidewalk and refrain from chanting, to avoid disrupting campus activity and stay within KU rules.

Especially in light of media focus on a small percentage of people rioting and looting in Ferguson, Bobo said it was important to him to show students can exercise their rights to without resorting to negative activity.

Students said no one group organized the march, rather several students came together and reached out to all campus organizations. Some white students and community members participated, too.

KU senior and Black Student Union member Chelsea Whiteside, who helped come up with the idea for a march, said she was glad to see people come together.

“We don’t see much from the black community on campus,” she said. “I wanted the black community to come together for a cause bigger than ourselves.”