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