Local activists Elsa Lakew and Mariam Jiffar are organizing a peaceful, nonviolent #BlackLivesStillMatter die-in at Wheaton Mall at 1pm on New Year’s Day. On their Facebook event page, the organizers write:
The purpose of this demonstration is to raise awareness about the countless Black lives that have been taken, and to send a message that this issue hasn’t gone away and won’t be swept under the rug just because it’s a new year.
Even though it is a new year, we are dealing with the same problem: young Black people are being targeted and killed by the police, yet officers face no charges.
These young men and women will be remembered, and we will hold this demonstration to mourn the loss of those who have been killed, remind everyone that the fight is not over, and demand safe and responsible law enforcement going forward.
Organizers have been in touch with both Montgomery County police and the mall proprietors; all parties are working to ensure that the event is a safe and peaceful one. When you join us, please join us in that spirit; also, let organizers know by registering yourself at their Facebook event page, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Die-in participants should be prepared to work with organizers to respect the ability of mall shoppers to get around or past them (per Montgomery County ordinance). Organizers also prefer that these participants be persons of color, while white supporters are encouraged to hold signs or banners in support — again, with a concern not to obstruct foot traffic. The goal is to be visible, memorable, and motivating — not obstructive.
The location of the die-in will be near the Macy’s interior mall entrance, bottom floor. Everyone is encouraged to wear black. Westfield Wheaton Mall is at 11600 Veirs Mill Road (zoom in on the map to see the Macy’s location within the mall). The mall is very near the Metro Wheaton stop on the Red Line.
This demonstration is of course part of a broader movement triggered by widespread outrage about the unindicted killings of two unarmed black men by police — Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. It’s critical that this movement continue — especially in light of recent events that have encouraged some (but not all) police and others to view peaceful calls for change as somehow responsible for endangering police.
MCCRC are pleased to to support Elsa and Mariam’s fine work; Elsa is a long-time activist against racial profiling of all kinds, and spoke eloquently against Islamophobia at a “Creeping Sharia myth” event a few years ago. She and Mariam are the kinds of leaders this young, critically important movement needs.