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UMKC Students: 'We Are Michael Brown'

Elle Moxley

About 150 University of Missouri-Kansas City students marched across campus Thursday evening chanting "hands up, don't shoot" to show support for the unarmed teenager killed by police in Ferguson, Mo., earlier this month.

Seniors Danielle McFadden and Carly Jones organized the event, called "I am Michael Brown," to start a conversation at UMKC about police militarization and racially-motivated violence.

"Basically we want people to know this can happen to anyone," says McFadden, who hails from St. Louis. "We just want people to know we are Michael Brown. I matter. We're trying to get people to understand they have a voice and now is the time to use it."

Jones says many communities are asking if something similar could happen to them. She thinks what's happening in Ferguson could happen anywhere.

Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR
UMKC students text their ideas about how their campus could respond to the events in Ferguson, Mo.

"This is one of the reasons we decided to have this event - to ask students and community members coming to the event to actually text their ideas and what they want to see change in the future," says Jones. "This is just the beginning stages of what we want to do."

Chancellor Leo Morton told students he can relate to their frustrations as young, black men and women because he grew up during the civil rights movement.

"I live in a nice neighborhood, but I'll tell you this - I don't go jogging at night because I can't wear a sign that says, 'I'm Leo Morton, and I'm chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and I have a master's degree from MIT.' What somebody would see at night is there's a large, black man running," says Morton.

Morton and other university officials who spoke at the event say they want UMKC students to feel safe on campus having discussions about racial profiling and other tough issues.

McFadden and Jones say they will use feedback gathered Thursday to plan future events and increase awareness on campus.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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