Dartmouth Students Hold Rally in Protest
Nathaniel Graves, of Quechee, center, a recent Dartmouth College graduate, leads a singing chant, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round,” during a rally to protest the George Zimmerman trial verdict in Hanover on Sunday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Sabrina Yegela, of Hanover, center, and Kayla Gilbert, of Lebanon, march silently during the rally. Both are 2012 Dartmouth College graduates. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth students, faculty and community members march to protest the Zimmerman verdict in Hanover on Sunday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — They didn’t speak, walking up and down the Sunday evening streets, but their signs did.
“Justice for Trayvon.” “Emmett Till Again?” “American Injustice System.”
The marchers had met in a shady area of the Dartmouth Green, and their numbers grew. Then about 40 protestors, predominately students, set off silently through the town a few minutes past 6 p.m., protesting the verdict of a trial they found unjust.
They rounded the corners of the Green, and then moved down Main Street. They paused for several minutes in front of Town Hall, where they were regarded, but not challenged, by passers-by. They walked back towards the college, which is holding its summer term, and stopped at the Collis Center, a student union.
And then they began to sing.
“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around,” they sang, led by recent Dartmouth College graduate Nathaniel Graves, who alternated “body” with “burden,” “legal system” and “courthouse.”
The protest was part of a wave of similar demonstrations yesterday, which followed a Saturday night verdict that found George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of the African-American teenager Trayvon Martin.
Later in the evening, Graves stood in front of those in the crowd, which had gained several more members, and addressed them.
He said that early yesterday morning he saw a Facebook update from a childhood friend, who wrote that he trusted the legal system, which on Saturday night found George Zimmerman not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Graves texted him in response, detailing his issues with the verdict and system, and received a text telling him to stop complaining.
He worried that he was, in fact, complaining. Then he realized something else.
“I’m going to complain,” he said. “It’s wrong, and I’m going to complain.”
As a hot afternoon gave way to a more moderate evening, various speakers took to the sidewalk and addressed those on the grass, many of whom were still holding their signs.
Russell Rickford, a history professor at the college, emceed the rally, often jumping in to speak when there was a lull.
“We’ve still got some fight left, ya’ll,” he said. “They haven’t beat us yet.”
Rickford, who has in the recent past spoken out against Dartmouth’s “veneer of civility,” at one point gestured toward the college and called it “White Supremacy U.”
“We’re going to build an anti-racist movement right here on this campus,” he said, “the most unlikely place for it to happen.”
About two hours into the demonstration, as Rickford left, Allison Puglisi, a rising junior, took over. A few more speakers took their turn, and then she offered her parting words to the group.
“It doesn’t end here,” she said. “Thank you for coming. Solidarity forever.”
Jon Wolper can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3242.