Kendall Mitchell ‘17
March 3, 2015
“I can hear my neighbor crying: ‘I can’t breathe,’ now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave,” sang the melodic and passionate voice of Reverend Osagyefo Sekou at the Trinity College Chapel in honor of the lives lost due to police brutality in this country. Rev. Sekou’s visit to Trinity came as a celebration of Black History Month, and as a time for the Hartford community to stand together to make a change. The Chapel community welcomed Rev. Sekou, a renowned leader in the nonviolent movement for justice and peace. Rev. Sekou’s weekend at Trinity included a discussion on the current Black Lives Matter Movement and nonviolent protesting, a session in nonviolent disobedience training and Sunday’s church service, which all were events leading up to a peaceful protest throughout downtown Hartford on February 23.
For anyone who was a participant in the protest, one could not have been more grateful for the nonviolent disobedience training that Rev. Sekou led. He, along with Trinity’s own Bishop John Selders, led simulations of nonviolent protests where attendees learned how to act and respond to police officers.
The next morning, Rev. Sekou preached in Trinity’s Chapel and emphasized the importance of young leaders rising to the challenge of ending racist police terror and brutality, and other types of inequalities that take place in the United States today. His sermon inspired churchgoers, including participants of the protest, to make a change immediately, and that’s what happened on Monday, Feb. 23.
Trinity College and the Greater Hartford community joined forces with Moral Monday CT in order to call to action full employment for all people, access to quality housing and education, a fair prison and justice system and the ending of police brutality against unarmed black people. Participants in Moral Mondays engage in civil disobedience each week by protesting inside of legislature buildings and then being peacefully arrested. These protests ultimately launched a grassroots social justice movement that spread to Georgia, South Carolina, Connecticut, and other U.S. states.
In the spirit of the protests that took place in Hartford, 60 people (a mix of Trinity students and faculty, as well as Connecticut citizens) joined together at the Christ Church Cathedral parish house to march arm-in-arm throughout downtown Hartford. The protestors, wearing signs that reminded viewers that “Black Lives Matter” walked throughout the streets of Hartford. Protestors chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “Stop Shoot to Kill” in order to relay the message that racist police terror is an issue in this country that will not be ignored. However, the participants were determined that this would be a peaceful protest, to effectively communicate the goals that they hoped to attain.
After a half-mile walk through the busy streets that were crowded due to Monday rush hour, the protestors valiantly walked through Hartford City Hall singing the freedom song, “This Little Light of Mine.” The voices of the protestors rang throughout the high ceilings and corridors while those who worked in City Hall applauded the group and took pictures. In honor of Michael Brown being fatally shot by a police officer, the group laid on the floor of City Hall in a silent protest called a die-in, where they stayed still on the ground for four and a half minutes. This represented the four and a half hours that Brown’s body lay in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
When marching, many protestors remembered the case of Luis Anglero Jr., 18, who was unarmed and shot by the Hartford police in 2014, and the case serves as a reminder that situations such as these are happening all over the United States. The signs protestors carried, many of which were designed by third graders in the Hartford area, personally moved many participants. It was truly amazing for one alumna in particular, Megan O’Brien, to see people of all ages participate in Moral Monday CT. She stated that “it was a great experience to attend the Moral Monday protests,” and she hopes to attend another one.