65th Street Die-in

School News

by Charlotte Force

A group of 16 LaGuardia students participate in a die-in on 65th street and Broadway to raise awareness of the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement.

A die-in, sometimes called a lie-in, is a form of peaceful protest in which people emulate being dead. These generally attract a lot of attention. Some die-ins are meant to truly evoke the image of death - others, like the 65th St. Die-in, use banners to convey their meaning. A large white cardboard sign, held high by a LaGuardia protester, read “No justice, No Peace”. This chant has echoed through the city since the police officer who choked Eric Garner was acquitted by the New York City grand jury on December 3, 2014. Five months later, police brutality cases like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown’s continue, the newest addition to the never-ending list being Walter Scott.

“I’ve never done a die-in in front of the school before - I thought it was great. So many kids walk down the block and we had a ring of people looking around here. People were walking by, asking what it was about. Since a lot of the famous and publicized police brutality cases happened months ago, people are forgetting about it. Something like this is like a little flick in the brain to remind you - I think that’s good.” Walter, Junior Drama Major

Magazines like Time continue to publicize the horror, recently releasing a bold black cover with “BLACK LIVES MATTER” printed in striking white. Unfortunately, press coverage has otherwise overwhelmingly subsided. Protesters wage on in Ferguson, yet people have become deaf to their yells. The 65th St. protesters are well aware of the ongoing events, however, and determined to raise awareness for their cause.

“I think it’s important that we do small-scale protests. It’s kind of sad how many people are just walking by and how many people are just standing. The choice to film, and take pictures of it, rather than participating in it is interesting. I think it affects a lot more people than would like to admit it.” Alaina, Junior Drama Major

Police men and security guards stood by tentatively, watching the protest and protecting students - they ascertained that the group came from laGuardia, right down the block. Rather than manifesting resentment or stopping the die-in, they looked on respectfully. One officer approached the group and manifested interest. He read the protesters’ sign, then proceeded to photograph it.

Some passers-by showed their solidarity by matching the die-in’s chants. Imitating the tragic last words of Eric Garner, the group repeated “I can’t breathe!” eleven times - the same number of times Garner repeated those words until the asphyxiation took hold. A passing man set down his bags and crouched along with the group for eleven chants. Passing truck drivers took interest in the “No justice, No peace” sign, and echoed it at the red light.

“So many people either don’t care, or have lost the momentum, lost the motive of the movement as it was before. When people feel that time has past, and they think ‘Oh, it’s not as important’. I think that this kind of movement shows that we need to keep up the movements and not just stop after one. You have to keep it going, and show people that it’s still as important.” Jeremy, Junior Drama Major

The protest achieved its purpose to an extent - it served as a reminder of the tragedies that affect us even today. It is racial prejudice that lays the foundation for these crimes, and a deaf and blind judicial system that does not condemn them. The BLACK LIVES MATTER movement is instrumental in raising awareness about the inequality pervading our system. Today’s protest was but a facet of that movement, but an important one for the LaGuardia community.