Education

University of Kentucky students hold 'die-in' to protest police brutality

About 40 protesters including Kelly Moore, front, center, held a silent "die-in" demonstration Tuesday at the University of Kentucky's Patterson Office Tower to protest police killings of black men. Students and faculty had to walk around the protesters. Moore was a co-organizer of the protest, which lasted about 30 minutes.
About 40 protesters including Kelly Moore, front, center, held a silent "die-in" demonstration Tuesday at the University of Kentucky's Patterson Office Tower to protest police killings of black men. Students and faculty had to walk around the protesters. Moore was a co-organizer of the protest, which lasted about 30 minutes. Lexington Herald-Leader

About 40 University of Kentucky students held a "die-in" Tuesday at Patterson Office Tower, sprawling on the lobby floor in a silent protest against police brutality.

The protest was held to raise student awareness of recent cases in which two black men — Michael Brown and Eric Garner — died at the hands of white police officers in Missouri and New York, said senior Kelly Moore, one of the event's organizers.

Grand juries declined to indict the police officers in both cases.

"We felt like UK needed to do something to make a statement," Moore said. "A die-in during Dead Week was the perfect mix."

Dead Week is the study period before final exams begin at UK.

The UK Board of Trustees was meeting 18 floors above the students, but Moore said it was a coincidence.

Moore said she spread word about the protest through social media and expected more people to attend another protest planned for 9 p.m. Wednesday at W.T. Young Library.

The students lay on the lobby floor for about 30 minutes, many holding signs with slogans that have emerged from recent national protests, including "I Can't Breathe" — Eric Garner's last words caught on video — "Hands Up" and "Black Lives Matter."

Some students watched quietly; others tiptoed around the prone figures. Former Lexington police Chief Anthany Beatty, who now heads public safety at UK, stood off to the side for several minutes before going to the trustees meeting.

"I think it's a powerful message," said Stephanie Federico, a UK junior who watched from the Patterson mezzanine.

Moore and co-organizer Christina Lucas are both from Louisville, and both said they have been victims of racial profiling by police.

"I hope to get everyone aware that the world is a really dangerous place for a black person," Moore said.

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