Trending gun violence sparks interest in students at Residential Life’s “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”

A somber ambiance filled the Towers at Centennial Square conference center as a timeline of 18-year-old Michael Brown’s death was read last night.

The descriptions leading up to his Aug. 9 death in Ferguson, Mo. sparked countrywide protest and debate over gun control. The “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” discussion followed last week’s “Fruitvale Station” film screening as part of a dialogue series put on by Residential Life on national and local shootings.

SF State has also felt the ramifications and has seen three of its students lost to gun violence over the last two years — Justin Valdez, Stephen Guillermo and most recently Mark Madden.

“There is a movement to change the system of where we live,” said the Towers coordinator Ivy Lumpkin during the discussion.

Residential Life also showed a YouTube video of Michael Brown’s shooting and the consequences that followed, a news clip and a short video of Oscar Grant’s uncle during a University of California Berkeley gun talk last Friday to prompt student voices for their concerns and help promote awareness.

The conversation on whether racism exists or doesn’t exist — both inside and outside the government structure — and the idea of the ‘see something say something’ term was also discussed.

“I want people to know they have a voice and they can be change agents and they can change the way that the world works,” said resident assistant of  University Park South Sara Gordon. “Yes, it’s great to ‘see something say something’, but sometimes you have to do something.”

During the discussion some questions were directed to University Police Department detective, James Callaghan, regarding police prosecution, the proper use of a firearms and reporting crimes.

“You have one honest opportunity to let them know you are there to help them. If you screw that up, you screw that up for everyone else,” said Callaghan, referring to the stigma police officers face when they are called to a scene.

Accountability was also a big part of the conversation, Callaghan stressed that everyone should to be held accountable for their actions whether in a police uniform or not.

“If you commit a crime, you should get punished like everybody else does,” Callaghan said. “A lot of times it doesn’t happen, that’s just a fact,” he said, adding that the term ‘see something say something’ also exist within the police force.

The night’s discussion was a way to educate and raise awareness of the bigger picture surrounding gun violence, Lumpkin said during the dialogue.

“I want to provide as much information as possible,” she said. “And to help students realize that not all cops have this agenda.”

October is being called the month of resistance to end mass incarceration, police terror, repression and the criminalization of a generation. There will be a day of action at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland Oct. 22 at 1 p.m.

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