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Jun 4, 2018 58 tweets 26 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Thread: About a week ago, I, and a few other students, reached out to Marcus’ family about writing a etter to VCU on their silence surrounding the unjustified killing of Marcus-David Peters

#18daysfor18seconds #MarcusDavidPeters #vcu #rva #JusticeAndReformation #HelpNotDeath
We sat down and started drafting carefully pulling pieces out of VCU’s strategic plan where they have made promises to students and the community.

#18daysfor18seconds #MarcusDavidPeters #rva #vcu #HelpNotDeath
After review by the family, we were asked to read a portion of the letter at the march on Saturday. You can view myself and @khudaiii speaking here (and the other lovely speakers from Saturday!)

#18daysfor18seconds #MarcusDavidPeters #HelpNotDeath #vcu
This morning we hand-delivered the packets of the letter and signatures to various VCU offices including Inclusive Excellence, Student Affairs and the College of Humanities and Sciences (Marcus’ graduating college) detailing our demands.

Our demands:

1) release a statement acknowledging Marcus’ death and reach out to the family

2) release a statement CRITICAL of the use of force by RPD

#18daysfor18seconds #HelpNotDeath #MarcusDavidPeters #rva #vcu
The first demand has a deadline of June 11th (4 WEEKS since the shooting) by 5:36pm (the exact time according to the bodycam footage)

#18daysfor18seconds #MarcusDavidPeters #rva #vcu #HelpNotDeath
The second demand has a deadline of 18 days (June 22nd). We have graciously selected 18 days when Marcus’ life was ended in 18 seconds. We have selected #18daysfor18seconds to allow folks to follow updates on the campaign against VCU

#HelpNotDeath #MarcusDavidPeters #vcu #rva
If you would like to read the letter and also add your name as a sponsor, you can do so here: docs.google.com/document/d/1Xu…

#18daysfor18seconds #MarcusDavidPeters #rva #vcu #HelpNotDeath
If you are unaware of what happened to #MarcusDavidPeters here is my thread detailing the video footage and family press conference

#18daysfor18seconds #HelpNotDeath #vcu #rva
Additionally, here is the gofundme link to support the family


#18daysfor18seconds #MarcusDavidPeters #rva #vcu #HelpNotDeath
Update: we have received a communication from three of the offices this morning to initiate a meeting with the authors of the letter

#18daysfor18seconds #vcu #rva #MarcusDavidPeters #HelpNotDeath
This was an update on our signatures last night since delivery

So we have a meeting with three administrators tomorrow morning! Will post updates after!
Banner dropped right before our administration meeting.

#18daysfor18seconds #MarcusDavidPeters #rva #vcu #HelpNotDeath
Working on posting updates surrounding the admin meeting this morning, stay tuned!

#18daysfor18seconds #MarcusDavidPeters #rva #JusticeAndReformation #HelpNotDeath #vcu
Additionally we have had 42 additional sponsors on the letter since we delivered them on Monday.

Add your own name here: docs.google.com/document/d/1Xu…

#18daysfor18seconds #HelpNotDeath #MarcusDavidPeters #rva #vcu #JusticeAndReformation
Alright y’all, update time! I have about 40 tweets planned out so stick it out if you’d like but I will also do a TLDR tweet towards the end if you can’t! I just want the option for folks to have more details if they’d like to.
This morning myself and my writing team met with administrations from VCU’s Inclusive Excellence (IE), Student Affairs (SA) and University Public Relations (UR). These are 3 out of the 12 offices we delivered to. Notice the lack of the President’s Office.
The first topic was we were asked to not record the meeting at all in which we casually placed our phones back in our pockets.
Admin started off the meeting by placing this event in the national context of the criminalization of behavior from those experiencing mental illness and the violence against people of color. This acknowledgment was appreciated by our group due to us not having to bring that up.
UR emphasized that they had talked to someone from the family but would not share specific details. We reiterated that we have been in contact with the family since the start and that they have signed off on our letter as they saw.
Right off the bat, they brought up their statement that was released by Residential Life and Housing that we were made aware of after the letter was created (showing the lack of visibility for other folks since we were hyper aware and WE didn’t even see it)
We brought up this statements lack of visibility and how it was also not shared widely on more broader social media pages such as the main VCU page. We were told that they cannot control who shares as that happens organically (but they can control their own pages...)
VCU has always used targeted messaging in cases of student deaths. Res Life was chosen due to Marcus being an RA. UR was in contact in the drafting of that statement as there is no current template for alumni deaths as they are often not addressed.
This theme continually came up by UR about how if we do this for one alumni, we would have to do it for all which would open up the flood gates.
We expressed that the context of Marcus’ death is different from general alumni death as it happened in Richmond (right off campus) and was at the hands of state violence.
Additionally, UR stated that they cannot release a statement about the use of force (demand number 2) while there is an active investigation.
We reiterated what our letter stated about not caring about the semantics or protocol but the general issue of police use of force on someone in crisis. It was said that we are assuming mental health issues until the investigation is complete.
They were strong in saying that they cannot meet this demand (which we honestly had expected). However, it is not uncommon for VCU to recognize these types of issues when they are on a broader context such as emailing about the Muslim Ban and DACA previously.
One point of ours that they liked and acknowledged their failure in was providing resources available for students after this community trauma. He is only a recent graduate and they acknowledged that there are still folks here who knew Marcus personally.
This is something that has been done before but was not extended after Marcus’ death.

Here is an example from Student Affairs after the election:
Discussion was had surrounding individuals responses versus the institution who has to maintain relationships with state/local government as a university. It was explained that the university is difficult to receive response from but individuals are giving responses.
We pointed out that these responses have been conversations behind closed doors which is not accessible to the community (or even students or other faculty). Their silence is violence by enabling.
Conversation shifted to discussing student organizing power and how they WANT students to call them out and push them forward.
We countered by explaining how we had extensive conversations and legitimate concerns about how this letter would effect our statuses in the university. They were shocked by this.
We expressed that our concerns opened up conversations around remaining anonymous and hat we eventually included our names for our own accountability to what we wrote. We did this KNOWING that we may have had a lot to lose.
They were appalled that we even had those thoughts. We brought up conversations with community who are uncomfortable signing due to possible consequences. I stated that I was told by an employee who I discussed the letter with that I need to worry about my reputation after this.
They stated that they will be working to ensure that it is very clear that students and faculty are welcomed to do these call outs without repercussions.
IE: I look at these types of things to see who I can recruit as they are passionate students

They valued our letter and willingness to have this discussion as they said that externalizing through media prevents vulnerability as they don’t know how their words will be twisted. They also said that they think media is good for when the university fails after a conversation.
UR also stated that Style Weekly reaches out over the weekend for a statement BEFORE the letter was even released on Monday. This was used to deem us as unprofessional in this meeting repeatedly.

See my other issues with Style Weekly here:
We discussed the university’s commitment to social justice which has been seen in them advocating for certain policies in the general assembly. This has included tuition bills and also medical advocacy.
IE brought how VCU has a commitment in the strategic plan to urban and regional transformation and how this advocacy is under that theme but the language is vague.
Side note, our faces when they asked if we had read the strategic plan. HAVE YOU SEEN THOSE CITATIONS LOL???
The strategic plan is still in a draft phase and IE wants to work with SA to make the language more specific in VCU’s commitment to address community social justice issues as a urban institution.
When asked about sending a mass email, like they have in the past, they brought up that it was summer and they have low open rates even during the year. We countered with it being a more official way compared to social media.
If social media is the only platform being used for the statement, we asked that the post be “boosted” to increase visibility especially since it has been almost 4 weeks. There was no definite response to this request.
IE brought up an email can be sent, similar to the Muslim Ban and DACA emails, about what it means to be an urban university and how they will approach social justice issues. This would definitely take longer to draft than our #18daysfor18seconds deadline.

Here is the DACA ex:
Ultimately, the feel from the meeting was positive but we are all still processing what this means going forward and how to achieve #JusticeAndReformation for Marcus and his family.
TLDR: VCU’s agreed tasks

1) communication about resources and making this a precedent for all types of tragedies

2) communication around VCU students and faculty having the right to call VCU out

3) revise strategic plan to include specific social justice issues
Additionally, our banners have been removed and rejected by the school. We had reserved banner space in the student commons that organizations use for event promotion.
We chose this “within the system” approach very carefully to ensure that they banners would have a longer life up rather than if we just banner dropped them ourselves.
We started with a cloth banner that was supposed to be released Monday but was the “wrong material” so we went and got paper that is provided BY the organization workspace and also reserved three more slots to create four banners.
This morning, they then told us that we STILL had the wrong material but we convinced them to put up the original cloth one for now and they would try putting up the paper ones later if we brought them back.
As you can see earlier in the thread, it was put up right before our admin meeting. Our meeting was in this same building so admin had to walk by it to come to the meeting lol
Then when we went to turn in the other paper banners, they were rejected and we were told that the other banner was being taken down. We waited for an HOUR while they assembled a review team of different offices to see if the banners could be accepted.
Basically they have in their policy that it must be an event promotion and it can’t just be a statement but we also overheard them talking about how the banners were political and they also brought in the multicultural office to review them sooo....
and I worked for HOURS AND HOURS over two days to get these banners painted and have them put up as soon as possible. If VCU won’t put them up, I’m at least showing off our hard work here because these are fucking awesome and I’m proud #18daysfor18seconds Red banner that says VCU do you value Marcus-David Peters?White banner that says Rest in power Marcus-David PetersRed banner that says silence is violenceWhite banner that says help not death

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