Black Lives Matter

Candlelight Vigil Held Standing with U.S. Protests after Grand Jury Doesn’t Indict in Michael Brown Case

Hundreds show their support for U.S. protesters outside McGill on Tuesday night, following a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer for the death of Michael Brown. Photo Alex Bailey

Hundreds gathered outside McGill for a candlelight vigil on Tuesday night, standing in solidarity with U.S. protesters who took to the streets following a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer for the death of Michael Brown.

“When I was walking from the gates and looked up to the field and saw that the field had been covered with people, I was shocked,” said Samanthea Samuels, co-president of the Black Students’ Network of McGill (BSN).

“That struck a chord. I was very emotional when I saw that.”

On Monday night, a grand jury chose not to indict officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Brown more than three months ago in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. The African-American teenager was unarmed. The grand jury was made up of nine whites and three blacks.

Samuels said the BSN hosted this vigil soon after the grand jury’s decision to show people suffering through inner turmoil that there is support available.

“When the news came out yesterday, I was very upset and saddened,” she said. “I feel like you came here to show that and weren’t alone.”

The co-president added that Brown’s death is not an isolated incident and is the result of systematic racism. She said people with “hearts” realize that it is a “big issue” and that change is required.

“If it’s not clear enough when you see an unarmed black man shot in the middle of the street, then nothing will change your mind,” Samuels said. “Then I definitely won’t waste my time talking to you.”

The Black Students’ Network of McGill organized the candlelight vigil soon after the grand jury’s decision. Photo Alex Bailey

The BSN is currently striving to become an open community for not only black students but all those that wish to learn more about these racial issues, according to Samuels.

“This does demonstrate progress,” she said about events like the vigil. “Situations that occur like this, in my mind at least, it just sets me all the way back—back to the Civil War, back to slavery.

“But you realize when these things happen, it’s pushing us to make that change.”

Maya Taylor, external coordinator of BSN, echoed her colleague’s sentiments, saying that she was “disappointed” with the verdict and was appreciative of people from different backgrounds and universities coming out to show their solidarity with Ferguson.

“[This event] makes people aware that systematic violence exists, that police violence specifically against black bodies is something that […] continues to exist,” Taylor said. “It’s not just about isolated cases, it’s about the system in which those isolated cases are working.”