Sophomore Nic Serhan leads a group of Tufts students in a eulogy on Tuesday, Dec. 2. These eulogies will continue every 28 hours until Weds., Dec. 10. Nicholas Pfosi / The Tufts Daily

Indict Tufts movement mobilizes, plans for future

Over 100 students came together on Wednesday night for an open group meeting called “#BlackLivesMatter / Tufts Community Town Hall Meeting: Mobilizing for #IndictAmerica & Ferguson Aftermath,” in Alumnae Lounge.

The meeting was part of a series of actions this week, organized by a group of students under the name Indict Tufts, to spotlight and fight racial oppression in the wake of the past week’s non-indictment of two white police officers for killing unarmed black men. These events have included protests in Carmichael and Dewick-MacPhie dining halls on Monday, where students “indicted” Tufts for its complicity in racism, and readings of eulogies occurring every 28 hours until Dec. 10, to represent the statistic that a black person is killed by law enforcement or vigilantes every 28 hours, according to a 2013 report. 

“Indict Tufts is a loose working group [of] people that have and have not been involved in anti-racist work, some first-years, some black people, [people of color] and white people as well,” Jonathan Jacob Moore, one of the students involved in the organizing, said. “I would describe it as grassroots and very natural.”

According to the event description, the town hall’s goals were to “discuss next steps for mobilizing Tufts,” and “interrogate anti-blackness on campus and nationwide.”

Students shared reactions to the Monday, Nov. 24 decision by a Missouri grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black man, in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 9. Participants also discussed a Staten Island grand jury’s decision earlier that day not to indict New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner from a chokehold, a tactic that is banned by the New York Police Department. Attorney General Eric Holder announced yesterday that the Justice Department will launch a civil rights investigation into the Garner case.

Students sat on the floor in a large circle around the room, and Amber Rose Johnson, a senior, began the meeting with a call to recognize “genocide against black bodies.”

Johnson poured libations as a form of honoring the space and calling in ancestors. Students, holding hands, then observed a four-and-a-half minute moment of silence to recognize the four-and-a-half hours Brown’s body lay in the streets of Ferguson after he was killed.

Johnson said that the ultimate goal of the movement is to bring an end to global racial oppression and white supremacy, noting that “we are in a war.”

“This is about moving forward,” Johnson said. “We have to move forward.”

Moore, a sophomore, then read a poem aloud to the students gathered.

Johnson underscored the need to organize, remember the lives lost to policy brutality and channel feelings into action, noting the need to “organize to make sure that Tufts is disrupted” and “make sure that Tufts is touched by rage.”

The meeting then opened up for students to share their comments and reactions.

In response to a question by a student about what the goals of Indict Tufts are, Johnson explained that there is not a specific list of demands to which Tufts can answer, but instead students are rallying behind bringing issues such as global black genocide, police brutality and oppression to the forefront. Johnson added that the organizing at Tufts is just a small part of a global movement, and that her personal goal is the end of white supremacy.

Students then broke into smaller groups based on their racial locations to think about their individual perspectives and discuss the role their group can play in mobilizing.

Moore felt that the meeting was a productive and positive space overall.

“People are remaining mobilized and are energized in a really wonderful way,” he said.

The working group of white students is in the beginning stages of planning a program, to be run by white students for white students, on how to talk to friends and family about the recent non-indictments and anti-blackness. The event is tentatively planned to take place before the end of the semester.

Students within Indict Tufts, including Johnson and Moore as well as sophomore Anissa Waterhouse and junior Wayne Yeh, are also planning a march from campus to Davis Square today at 4:30 p.m. The march will start at the lower patio of Mayer Campus Center and end in Davis Square. 

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7 Responses

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  1. Charles
    Dec 07, 2014 - 12:00 AM

    Perhaps you should focus on the fact that over 90% of black shootings are committed by other blacks. There is little outrage over the gang related black on black killings in Chicago or in other major cities. As a Tufts alum I am embarrassed by the Naïveté of the Indict Tufts group. Why not focus on the root causes of black on black violence instead of the bs position that somehow Tufts is complicit in racism?

  2. Tufts Alum '14
    Dec 07, 2014 - 01:57 AM

    Charles, if by “root causes” you mean the deeply rooted racial inequalities in this country that trap black families in cycles of poverty and deprive them of access to basic educational, healthcare, and economic resources, I believe you’ll find these issues are addressed if you take the time to listen to what some of these students are saying.

    As a fellow Tufts alumnus, I’m embarrassed that you would blindly repeat a Fox News talking point as if it negates any discussion of racism and the injustices that it leads to.

    • Charles
      Dec 07, 2014 - 11:33 PM

      Dear Tufts Alum ’14, Please spare me the guilt trip. I graduated from Tufts many decades ago and experienced being on the receiving end of discrimination first hand. I’ve also observed so many immigrant groups including the Chinese, Koreans, Indians, Pakistanis, Latinos, and African Blacks (particularly the Nigerians) overcome great discrimination and adversity to become educationally and financially successful within a generation or two. Why is it that African Blacks succeed when they come to the US? Do they face less discrimination than American Blacks? I think not. Explain to me why American Blacks are uniquely discriminated against versus all the other minority groups that have succeeded?

      What traps black families in cycles of poverty is dependency on failed government programs that provide little or no incentive for black families to escape poverty or a life of dependence. What also traps black families is the complete breakdown of family structure. As to the K-12 public education system, I agree with you that it is bad, but perhaps you should take that up with the teachers union. In any event, it is far easier to blame someone else for failure than to accept responsibility for one’s actions or decisions.

      I cringe when I listen to what “these students are saying” They cry that life isn’t fair and there is so much inequality. Well guess what, life never was and will never be fair. There will always be inequality. The smart and the driven will succeed, the whiners will not. Is it fair that you were born smart and worked hard to get into Tufts? You must be an intellectual elitist since you decided not to attend community college or a state university. What is incumbent upon society is to give everyone the opportunity to succeed, to get a good education and to be a welcomed part of the community. Society cannot and will never be able to guarantee equal outcomes.

      Alums such as me have donated significant sums of money to Tufts to provide the University with the money to admit students who otherwise would not be able to afford a Tufts education. Explain to me how Tufts is racist by admitting minority and other need based students for a free ride thereby giving them the opportunity to get a first rate education?

      BTW, I don’t listen to Fox News. However, I do read several newspapers and visit sites such as RCP that present the full spectrum of views. It sounds as if you should spend less time watching Reverend Al the tax cheat, racist and misogynist on MSNBC.

  3. literably
    Dec 07, 2014 - 02:57 AM

    “Johnson poured libations as a form of honoring the space and calling in ancestors”
    “In response to a question by a student about what the goals of Indict
    Tufts are, Johnson explained that there is not a specific list of
    demands”
    “Students then broke into smaller groups based on their racial locations”

    This school is becoming a caricature.

  4. Bob
    Dec 07, 2014 - 11:53 PM

    “Johnson poured libations as a form of honoring the space and calling in ancestors.”

    Wow! Just wow! That may be the funniest thing I’ve read all year. Thanks for the laugh TD?

  5. Bob
    Dec 07, 2014 - 11:55 PM

    Sorry, double post.

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