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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 17, 2024
Speak Out

Student protest reflects national, state outcry over recent shootings

While a larger tide of public outcry focuses on the killing of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in Florida, a “Speak-Out” on Library Mall Tuesday focused on the less-publicized killing of Bo Morrison in Wisconsin and the state law that protects his killer.

An unarmed Martin was killed Feb. 27 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who was released after questioning under a Florida law that allows a person to use deadly force in self-defense if there is reasonable belief of threat. Both the shooting and the legal benefit of the doubt Zimmerman received have propelled the incident into the national spotlight.

In a similar incident, 20-year-old Morrison was killed the night of March 3 after leaving a house party in Slinger, Wis. A neighbor shot Morrison after finding him on his porch. He claims he is protected by the recently expanded Castle Doctrine, a law that defines the use of his handgun on his property as self-defense.

Some in the crowd wore hooded sweatshirts, which have become a symbol of the movement protesting Martin’s death. Attendees also heard from Morrison’s friends and current UW-Madison students who described the friend they knew and lost.

“It was really sad hearing from the girls [that were friends with Morrison]… your heart goes out to them, that they lost their friend like that,” said sociology graduate student Jenn Sims.

Organizers and some in attendance also connected the killings with racial incidents on campus, pointing to the recent alleged verbal harassment of two female African-American students.

“This event came out of the idea that there’s been these attacks on black men and blacks not only across the country but on the UW-Madison campus as well,” said event organizer and International Socialist Organization member Dan Suarez. “We need to provide a space for people to be able to express themselves, and this is already a hard enough place for students of color to go to school anyway.”

When asked about the reported harassment that took place during a Delta Upsilon Fraternity party, Sims agreed.

“It’s just scary for the undergrads,” she said. “I see black women and men in my classroom, and that could have been one of my students.”

To student and Langdon-area resident Colin Bowden, who spoke at the event, building racial understanding and ensuring safety for students of color in the community begins with organizations that aim to educate students about multicultural awareness, some of which could lose their funding.

“With the loss of funding [to the Multicultural Student Coalition and other student organizations that promote awareness] we lose one of the only ways that we have on campus to make it a safer place for people of color,” he said.

It is the responsibility of the institutions that “have the ability to influence in a bigger way” to approach campus education, Bowden added.

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