Widgets Magazine

Stanford students block Palo Alto traffic in Wednesday march

RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily

RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily

Wednesday night, hundreds of Stanford students and community members participated in demonstrations reacting to the decision not to prosecute a New York police officer in the death of the unarmed black man Eric Garner, announced earlier that day. Protesters also decried what they saw as a wider problem of police racism and violence. A group of protestors also briefly blocked part of Highway 101.

The protesters, led by student coalition Palo Alto State of Emergency, met in White Plaza at around 7 p.m., walked to Palo Alto and returned to the Stanford campus by around 10 p.m. The protesters walked down and blocked off both Palm Drive and University Ave. The protesters also blocked several streets in Palo Alto.

RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily

RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily

Police response mainly consisted of redirecting or stopping traffic to give the protesters a clear line of march. As the march took several abrupt turns in Palo Alto, the police were only somewhat successful in preventing cars from getting stuck.

The protests were peaceful, and organizers asked participants at the beginning of the demonstration to leave if they thought they couldn’t remain non-violent.

The protesters carried signs with a variety of slogans. A number of people at the protest said that they wanted the police to wear body cameras, while many wielded signs claiming “Cameras Are Not Enough” and “Video Can’t Save Us.”

RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily

RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily

The protest featured call-and-response chants such as “no guns/ no armor/ justice/ for Eric Garner.” There were several moments of silence, including one in White Plaza at the end of the demonstration and another two while the protesters blocked traffic in Palo Alto.

The response from the bystanders tended to be neutral or supportive, however there were community members that also voiced disapproval.

Attendance fluctuated during the protest, however, between 250 and 350 people took part at the beginning of the march. About 70 to 100 people had left by the time the protesters returned to the Stanford campus.

RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily

RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily

Contact Caleb Smith at caleb17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith '17 is a Desk Editor from Oakland, California and is majoring in public policy. Outside the Daily, Caleb is Director of news at KZSU Stanford, the campus radio station. Have a tip or suggestion? Please contact him at caleb17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.
  • Clarification

    I think most of us who left the march in downtown Palo Alto had left for Highway 101, as local news outlets estimate that ~150 people were blocking the freeway. We returned separately from the other marchers.

  • John R. Grout

    One expects Berkeley thugs, not Stanford students, to be protesting just decisions.

  • CheckYourIgnorance

    It’s because so many people are protesting this, of varying races, communities, nationalities, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds, etc. that you as an individual should question exactly how “just” those decisions were. By placing a pre-conceived dichotomy on who is a “Berkeley thug” and who is a “Stanford student” and what actions they are typically involved in, you confirm the fact that you are prejudiced. And prejudgement in and of itself, is unjust. In the span of our nation’s history, when have we been able to applaud our legal system for getting things exactly right? If you answer anything besides “never”, then I will not hesitate to say that you and your mentality are the problem. Next question: Do you identify as a cis-gendered, white male? If so, then consider the fact that you’ve been the ideal citizen since colonists sailed to this”New World”. Now attempt understanding that your life has been lived with that privilege and that it is inherently more difficult to see injustice from a privileged perspective. Surely even after reading this every bit of you it pushing back against what I’ve said. Don’t feel too bad. If it were easy to show people how their privilege hinders them from seeing injustice, then slavery would’ve never been, Black Codes wouldn’t have swept through the South in the days of reconstruction, Jim Crow wouldn’t have risen, and mass incarceration and the War on “Drugs” wouldn’t be ravashing low-income, minority communities. Good day.

  • Luke

    “Berkeley thugs”?! I applaud both Berkeley and Stanford students, and the Berkeley and Palo Alto communities, with their protests of a one-sided criminal justice system.

  • maddogsfavsnpiks

    To fully understand how racist your comment is Mr Grout, one can start with an historic look at our so-called “founding fathers”. Men like Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Mason, all of whom enslaved hundreds and hundreds of human beings. Think about that for a moment.
    And then we should also realize that other “founding fathers” including Benjamin Franklin, Edmund Randolph, and lesser known men like William Blount, Rufus King, Luther Martin and John F Mercer (of Maryland), the Pinckneys and John Rutledge (of South Carolina), also owned slaves and being just as morally corrupt, contributed to the immense injustice and horrific savagery of the slave trade.
    * * * * * * *
    American History
    Those four black girls blown up
    in that Alabama church
    remind me of five hundred
    middle passage blacks,
    in a net, under water
    in Charleston harbor
    so redcoats wouldn’t find them.
    Can’t find what you can’t see
    can you ?
    — by Michael Harper (1970)
    * * * * * * *
    Since then, there have been some gains in the name of color-blind justice, but not without many, many meetings, not without many, many marches, and many, many more protests from the beginning on down to the present. That is, courageous people putting their bodies and lives on the line for justice for all.
    Most recently, given that 80 (at least) **unarmed** black men, women and children (plus some people of native descent) have been killed by police in just the last 15 yrs alone, one would expect that anyone concerned about the practice of justice, and “law and order”, whether white, black, brown, red or yellow, or whatever, would be meeting, marching, protesting, rising up and shutting it down, NOW.. (“it” being any expression of the racist, privilege-based, justice system).
    But even in the last one hundred years, even now, racism and imperial greed, funded with your tax dollars extends well beyond our borders, into south America, into southeast Asia, into the Middle East, into Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, into Africa, and so on.. Note, for some reason, while we’ve invaded or exploited almost every dark-skinned foreign people on the planet, we haven’t invaded white Australia, or Canada..
    In a reference to Melville’s novel Moby Dick, poet laureate Michael Harper, now at Brown University, published in 1970, the following, during the brutal, genocidal war on the dark-skinned peoples of Viet Nam :
    * * * * * * *
    The White Whale
    The gentleman white killer whale
    spawns again into the Pacific waters,
    spawns the lead-boots and whalebone
    kiss of another harbor :
    can’t somebody teach him how
    to love
    and bury his oil ‘fore
    he poisons everybody
    with his lead-pipe sperm ?

  • Selina Smith

    Palo alto judges make 400.000 a year. Police make 250000+ kidnapping robbing then putting money and drugs back on the street. Creating slaves of our people. Sounds like Nazi Germany no?