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Last week, A women appeared on the Free Speech stump on the Plaza holding a sign that read “Kill all Police…They are Killing us.”
The Colorado State University Plaza is a protected free speech zone. As insinuating and heinous as this woman’s message was to some students and community members, it is protected free-speech. Holding the sign was Susan Holmes, mother of 19 year old Jeremy Holmes who was killed in an incident involving CSUPD in July.
“There are good and bad people everywhere, but saying all police officers should die is so incorrect,” said CSU student Natalie Gardon.”Fighting violence with violence will not stop anything.”
While Holmes’ initial message is inciting violence or animosity against police, many students agreed that there was a different intent behind her protest: to use a bold message to draw attention to her story and make students start thinking about police brutality.
Instead of focusing on the means of protesting, we need to start focusing on the intentions and reasons behind the protest. Often the motive behind a protest is neglected or unacknowledged. Holmes said her intentions were to get people’s attention, and the best way to to do that is by being radical.
“I think the message is open for you to take and you can do what you want,” said Holmes.
Her sign created an environment of open discussion, and started conversations between students who would not generally interact.
Many CSU students do not have to worry or think about police brutality everyday, and methods like this draw their attention and forces them to listen and engage in conversations.
“As an African American person, I can definitely understand how she feels, having someone close to you killed by the police, shot by someone we pay and believe will protect us,” said CSU student Aaron Allen. “I don’t agree with her sign, but regardless it did catch our attention and has us thinking, ‘hey something has to change, something’s got to give.’”
Police brutality has become a polarized issue in our country, and protests like NFL players.
kneeling has made the issue relevant on a national scale.
According to an analysis from Harvard University and Stockholm University, protests function as ways of getting people politically active.
These methods are more habit than solution. Protests today work more at increasing public awareness than creating lasting results or solutions. They very rarely lead to any systematic or structural changes, rather inform the general public that these changes need to be made.
If the sign simply said ‘stop police brutality’ most students wouldn’t have been compelled enough to stop or interact. This is a message we have seen before, a message many have grown accustomed to ignoring.
“Her intentions and message is what is relevant here, that’s what people need to listen to. She obviously got our attention, it worked.” Said sophomore Kenyatta Richardson. “I also think if anyone else was standing her with that sign, a black or latinx person, we would not get the same reaction as she is right now.”
In regards to NFL players kneeling, many people misconstrued their peaceful protest against police brutality as disrespectful, instead of reflecting on why they are kneeling. While it is statistically undeniable that police brutality is an issue, any demonstration is met with large amounts of backlash.
Stopping violence with violence is never the answer, but remaining silent is equally culpable. Silence is killing people. Silence is perpetuating injustice. Whether or not you agree with the means, Holmes did get conversation started around an issue that is so relevant and easy to dismiss.
Jayla Hodge can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @Jaylahodge.