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The 23 students of the Potomac Preparatory Charter School’s Gentlemen’s Association were handing out blankets to those in need in Franklin Square this afternoon when they spotting a roving group of protesters across the street on the corner of 14th and I streets NW.
Organized by the Black Youth Project 100, the group was protesting the St. Louis County grand jury decision last night to bring no criminal charges against Darren Wilson—the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Mo. in August—-in front of the D.C. Office of Police Complaints.
The teachers of the nearly two dozen Potomac Preparatory students decided to bring their kids—-all black boys in grades three through eight—-across the street to join the protest. The students participated in the group chants calling for justice for Brown and telling the nation that black lives matter.
“They had to see this,” says Jamonte Banks, a sixth-grade teacher at the school, which is near Catholic University. “To have kids around 8 to 14 years old be a part of something this monumental—-it’s going to stick with them. They’re going to remember this day.”
The Black Youth Project protesters have been traveling around D.C. today as part of its “28 Hours for Mike Brown”—a reference to a 2012 study showing that a police officer, security guard, or vigilante kills a black person once every 28 hours. Some of the protesters delivered a letter to the director of the Office of Police Complaints calling, in part, for officers who have been implicated in misconduct to be held accountable for their actions. The director, Michael Tobin, reportedly agreed to a future meeting with the group.
“[Being here] means a lot to me and my family. What if that was me in that situation?” asks Anthony Shipman, 13, an eighth grader at Potomac Prep. “To shoot a man? That’s not right. Justice was not served.”
After the police complaints office, the group from the Black Youth Project headed to the Wilson Building, where many of them participated in a “die-in” in front of the building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
Photo by Perry Stein