Demonstrators Stage Lie-In At Borough Council Meeting, Demand ‘Justice For Osaze Osagie’
Several demonstrators staged a lie-in at Monday night’s Borough Council work session in response to the death of Osaze Osagie, who was shot and killed by a State College Police officer last month.
Council was scheduled to workshop its long-range transportation plan Monday night with local transportation representatives, as well as discuss the potential Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance plan. Council President Evan Myers kicked off the meeting by speaking about the ongoing investigation into Osagie’s death.
“In future council work sessions, this council will begin to address these issues and how as a community we can heal, and make sure that we face up to the higher calling of fighting the evils of racism, no matter what the findings of this investigation,” Myers said.
“The investigation is ongoing, and we do expect those results at some point,” Borough Manager Tom Fountaine added.
At this point in the meeting, the group of protestors entered the room. One demonstrator carrying a CD player sang “God Bless the Child” as six individuals assumed their positions around the room.
“We are here to demand justice for Osaze Osagie,” he said. As he spoke, the group handed out a list of demands to the meeting’s attendees.
“If our demands are not met, the protests will continue indefinitely. The demonstrations will continue indefinitely,” he said after outlining the list.
“If you have questions about who we are,” he said before leading a call and response chant with the other demonstrators, calling “we are” to the response of “not” several times.
He then played a recording that included police sirens and a voice saying “I can’t breathe” as the group lay down on the floor of Council Chambers.
Songs including Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” then played from the speaker.
After several minutes, Myers began to speak over the music.
“I think we understand, some of us understand, the angst and the concerns and the fears of the folks that have come here to protest,” Myers said. “However, at the same time, I know that the folks have come forward with some points that they believe are very important…in order for us to go forward, we’ll either have to continue to have a discussion, we’ll have to have some of those folks come forward and speak during the public hour, or we’ll have to adjourn the meeting.”
Myers paused again as the music continued to play and the demonstrators remained on the floor. After several minutes, he said that about fifty years ago he had “participated in a sit-in at Old Main” as a Penn State student to protest the war in Vietnam and the “distinct lack of black students on this campus after the administration pledged to recruit a thousand black students when the year before there were less than three hundred.”
When none of the demonstrators came forward to speak, Myers adjourned the meeting. The demonstrators remained on the floor for about twenty minutes after the meeting had concluded before exiting the room.
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About the Author
Roll your eyes all you want. This is a “We Are” moment if I’ve ever seen one.
The town hall will be livestreamed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14.
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