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‘iPadJournos’ report from inside protests as VCU students, residents decry Ferguson decision

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RICHMOND, Va. — Hundreds of VCU students and residents of nearby Richmond neighborhoods gathered Monday night to protest the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of teenager Michael Brown.

Reporters from VCU’s “iPadJournos” project walked with the crowd and covered the protests in real time via Twitter and Instagram. This is their account:

Members of the VCU student poetry organization Slam Nahuatl organized the protest using social media shortly after hearing about the grand jury’s decision Monday evening. The protesters gathered at the VCU Student Media Center and began marching between West Broad Street and Harrison Street.

Brittany Maddox, one of the protest organizers and a member of Slam Nahuatl, said she was not surprised when she learned of the grand jury’s decision. Maddox said earlier in the day she performed a spoken word piece on gun violence and decided to take action.

“I wouldn’t feel right with myself… who just says a poem about this and then not actually going out and doing something,” Maddox said. “Something in me was like, just go.”

After a few minutes of marching back and forth on West Broad Street, the crowd had doubled in size, and organizers decided to leave the Student Media Center and take the march to the Compass at the center of VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.

Protesters held up signs reading “Hands up, don’t shoot” and shouted “No justice, no peace” as they marched. When they arrived at the Compass members of Slam Nahuatl led a prayer asking for safe keeping during the protest.

While the crowd stood at the Compass, Emiley Allison performed a poem describing the fear young, black women face when thinking of the dangers their future children could encounter.

“You see, I am afraid to birth a brown boy,” Allison said. “Because before he has enough time to make a comfort out of my arms, he will make a home in front of a six foot wooden box deep under.”

After a few minutes, the protesters left the Compass and made their way to the Richmond Police Department on West Grace Street. Other VCU students and residents stood at their windows as protesters passed and cars passing by honked their horns in solidarity. Police blocked traffic on the streets as the protesters continued to march.

Joining the protests was VCU student Shayla Sanders, who had previously marched alongside Michael Brown’s mother in Ferguson. Sanders said she was surprised at the large numbers of protesters in Richmond.

“It was amazing to see so much solidarity,” Sanders said. “Regardless of race, religion or all sexuality people are saying ‘Hey something’s wrong,’ and they want to stand up united and say something about it.”

After arriving at the Richmond Police Department, the march held a four-minute moment of silence to remember all of the young American men killed without trial. By the end of the silence, nearly all protesters held their fists in the air, imitating the raised fist symbol.

As the peaceful protest was nearing its end, one woman began singing Amazing Grace. Other protesters joined her until the entire crowd was singing together and the protests ended peacefully in Richmond.

By Maya Earls and Grant Wilging (Special to WTVR.com)

This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between WTVR.com and VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.