All over the country, activists have been staging “die-ins” to protest the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and other African American males at the hands of police. The local progressive group Athens for Everyone got in on the action Saturday at Georgia Square Mall, giving shoppers a little something to think about while they browsed for Christmas gifts.
“We felt like we needed to get outside of the university/downtown area, where we’ve already had actions,” said Tim Denson, one of the organizers. “Such a wide variety of people come to the mall.”
Die-ins involve people laying on the ground motionless for four and a half minutes—one minute for each hour Ferguson, MO police left Brown’s body in the street after shooting him. About 20 people participated in the Georgia Square Mall die-in while others hung banners over the second-floor railing.
Dozens of curious onlookers—black, white and Latino—gathered, some of them applauding, some taking photos with their phones. A couple of black teenage girls giggled and rolled their eyes. One white policer officer had a conversation with a young black man, telling him that he didn’t think the protest would make a difference and that not only do black lives matter, but all lives matter. The black man replied that one person can make a difference, and this was a start.
The protest was cut slightly short, however, when the mall manager on duty told Denson that if the protesters did not get up, she would have police remove them. The protesters left, and the mall manager followed them outside to tell them they couldn’t congregate near the entrance. She also told this reporter that he couldn’t interview anyone on mall property.
“The people who were shopping were awesome. That was great,” Denson said. “Management was not into it at all. The cops tried to stay neutral.”
Oh, and by the way, for everybody who thinks Georgia Square Mall is dying, it was pretty packed.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.