The Phi Beta Sigma fraternity took advantage of the Tree of Lights ceremony to make a statement on police brutality. The fraternity hung a toy Santa with its hands up and the words “DON’T SHOOT” painted on its back.
Kiedric Berry, entertainment chair and director of social action for Phi Beta Sigma, was one of the main advocates for the ornament. He said the ornament was not in direct correlation with the shooting of Mike Brown, but rather a statement against police brutality.
“We’re really trying to raise awareness for what’s going on in our nation right now,” Berry said. “It’s not specific for any event going on, we’re just trying to promote that our lives matter. Black lives matter, white lives matter, Asian lives matter, Indian lives matter, we all matter.”
Phi Beta Sigma’s advocacy began before Thanksgiving break, and will continue into the new year with events to promote unity throughout the university as well as educate students and faculty.
“We just know what we’re told,” Berry said. “A lot of people don’t know a lot of [their] own rights, so we’re trying to prevent ignorance.”
The Santa ornament, which has only been on the tree for a number of hours, has already received attention on campus, some of which was negative.
“Some people feel like we are [being negative], but if we don’t take a stand on these issues, then they won’t change,” Berry said. “Hopefully one day they will recognize that, and we can fight together.”
Berry expressed that these events are not a direct attack at anyone but rather a campaign for harmony.
“We hope to get the police involved,” Berry said. “We’re not trying to heckle them or take shots at anyone, we’re just trying to find justice. A lot of people confuse what’s going on with a race issue, but the only way we can tackle that is to unify together as one people.”
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This is a pretty mild response to Ferguson and Eric Garner's death. In other states, people blocked streets, held die-ins, even burned cars or looted stores. A Christmas ornament seems a pretty polite way to make a statement.