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Amid the bustling school spirit of Roadrunner Days, a group of students gathered on campus to bring local attention to a national issue.

“Roadrunners with Ferguson” was held on Tuesday Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sombrilla Plaza to encourage discussion about the shooting and subsequent protests in Ferguson. Student participants of UTSA’s Civil Rights Exploration trip hosted the event.

Students gathered to stand in solidarity with the protestors in Ferguson, Mo. who have been protesting police discrimination since the fateful shooting of African-American teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darrell Wilson.

“Hands up. Don’t shoot,” has become the motto of protestors in Ferguson after witnesses reported seeing Brown shot while running from Wilson with his hands in the air.

Since the shooting, questions have arisen as to whether or not Brown instigated the shooting by assaulting Wilson. A video released a few days after the shooting alleged that Brown had stolen cigars from a convenience store. The Ferguson Police Department claims it was this alleged theft that Wilson was responding to when he spotted Brown.

However, witnesses have come forward saying that no altercation took place between Brown and Wilson, and others question the validity of security footage showing Brown robbing a convenience store.

An autopsy report released the same day as the convenience store security footage revealed that Brown was shot six times by Wilson.

The shooting has since shined a spotlight on racial discrimination and caused many to question whether black men and women can feel safe walking down the street.

According to the FBI’s Supplementary Homicidal Report (SHR), nearly a third of all homicides of citizens by a police officer are black men, even though they account for only 13 percent of the U.S. population. The largest age group of black men killed by a police officer peaked at 20 years of age.

However, the percentage may be higher — the submission of data for the SHR is voluntary; police departments are not required by law to participate.

“I’m here because I feel that what’s happening in Ferguson right now are things that shouldn’t be happening in our country,” said senior mechanical engineering major Leo Mcafe.

Felicia Fraser, senior sociology and criminal justice double major, also attended “Roadrunners with Ferguson,” saying, “We stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri.”

Fraser’s parents have a background in law enforcement; therefore, she hopes that positive relationships can be built between minorities and police officers.

“I think there are tons of opportunities to get the community involved with the police, but it won’t be easy,” said Fraser.

Many of the students who attended the event discussed a desire for community forums at which members of the community could meet and make personal connections with law enforcement.

And while Fraser is hopeful for a peaceful future, she is aware of potentially dangerous situations that currently exist.

“It makes me fear to have sons in the future,” she said. “I won’t ever be worry-free about my kids.”

As a black man, Mcafe is fearful of a potentially wrongful arrest. “Any time I walk anywhere not on campus, I feel threatened,” he said.

Senior communication major Celeste Brown claims she personally encountered prejudice from law enforcement after her brother was wrongfully detained by a police officer.

Brown claims that while her brother was driving with two of his friends, a police officer pulled over the car for playing loud music. She claims the officer then made everyone exit the vehicle, handcuffed them without explanation and attempted to verbally provoke them.

“My brother is only 18 years old and he came home shaking because he didn’t know what to do,” said Brown. “All it would have taken was for him to elicit some response to give the cop an excuse like what happened with Michael Brown.”

Students participating in the discussion suggested ways to spread awareness and prevent potential discrimination. While no concrete plans were put in motion at the event, students discussed activism through voting and spreading information to peers.

According to Brown, “People may feel like we can’t make a difference all the way in Texas, but all it takes is just one person making enough noise. “

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