Students, community remember Michael Brown


Community members gathered on King Street for a solidarity protest surrounding the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Laney Ruckstuhl | The Appalachian

The Appalachian

A solidarity protest and candlelight vigil for the events surrounding Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri were held on King Street Tuesday night.

Community members, including Appalachian State University students, gathered at 6 p.m. in the town square

Protestor Stephen Lindemann holds a handmade sign expressing his anger toward the events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Laney Ruckstuhl  |  The Appalachian
Protestor Stephen Lindemann holds a handmade sign expressing his anger toward the events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Laney Ruckstuhl | The Appalachian

beside Bald Guy Brew, where they organized to make a banner and signs before the vigil.

More than 40 people huddled together in the cold for over an hour, holding candles, reading poetry, speaking about their emotions and even playing drums.

The event was planned by several community members less than six hours before it occurred.

“A bunch of people who knew each other came together, wanting to do this together,” said Caroline Hampton, one of the organizers.

Hampton said the event was held in correlation with solidarity protests that happened across the nation Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after a jury made the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the cop who shot and killed Michael Brown.

“I think some people brought up good points tonight that there is racism in this community and there are people of color who are marginalized and targeted,” Hampton said. “It’s important for all of us, whatever our color be, to use our privilege every day to support others who are being oppressed and also, make everyone aware of what goes on in this country.”

Attendees expressed their concerns over racism, corporatization of the media and the threat of militarized police, identifying these issues as nationwide, not unique to Ferguson.

“We are all one,” Appalachian alumni Brett Airey said. “We are all connected.”

Fellow organizer and local artist Tommy Lee said he felt that if he didn’t do something to express himself after the decision was made, he was going to lose it.

“I didn’t want that anger and that frustration and that bitterness to fester into anything that would turn violent,” Lee said. “I know that this community is really good at coming together to support each other. We felt like in a time like this, since so many people have these same emotions and feelings and thoughts, let’s create a platform where we can share that together.”

Lee said in a small, intimate community like Boone, he feels it is important that people have honest, open conversations about issues surrounding them.

“We do live in this bubble, and it allows us to have the fortune of not having those candid conversations,” Lee said. “There’s a bigger picture at hand.”

Senior creative writing major, Kingsley Okike Jr. said for him the vigil was more about remembering the life of Michael Brown.

“I’m from a large city of cop violence,” said Okike, originally from Philadelphia. “[We need to] just create more awareness about it.”

Boone resident Sarah Kellogg said more conversation about race and privilege need to be had, as she feels black people have always been systematically oppressed.

“I can’t not do something or not say something,” Kellogg said. “It upsets me so much. And there’s so much change that needs to happen. I think we should have a conversation with our police to start, speaking our concerns about what we’re hearing happening across the state, and making sure that they understand.”

Kellogg said protests and continuing conversations with each other are the only way to make a complete change. She feels optimistic that America is already headed in that direction due to the increasing number of protests that are happening.

“We’re coming to realize that we still don’t have equality,” Kellogg said. “This is an uprising that has to happen in order to achieve that.”

Story: Laney Ruckstuhl, News Editor & Clare McPherson, Intern News Reporter