Students blocked traffic on Court Street and laid on the floor of Cutler Hall in protest of the decision not to indict a police officer in New York City who killed Eric Garner.
A crowd of more than 50 protesters marched down the middle of Court Street at roughly 5:45 p.m. Friday night, and eventually held a die-in Cutler Hall for several minutes.
By 6:30 p.m., students had moved to the fourth floor of Baker University Center, where they continued their protest and dialogue about race in America. They linked arms and expressed their feelings on recent grand jury decisions and police violence while discussing the black experience in the U.S.
Multiple people walked through the protest, mostly keeping their heads down. One male walking through was told to "educate yourself" by the protestors, and as he descended down the escalator at Baker replied: "I have, you should too" — he later came back and talked to protesting students.
One female passerby said, "Watch me not give a f--k," after struggling to make her way through the doors into Baker. That led to a discussion between protestors on how to deal with those not involved walking through the protest.
"Her mind is too small to understand," one woman said of the female.
Students and Athens residents who opposed the recent decision to not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner first gathered near the Athens County Courthouse at 5 p.m. Friday.
Attendees stood in the drizzling rain holding signs that read, "I Can't Breathe - Eric Garner," "#Ferguson" and "Black Lives Matter." After several speeches and chants, the demonstration took to the streets, halting traffic on Court Street for several minutes.
"We were not expecting (the protest moving to the street)," said Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle.
Shortly after the protest began, law enforcement blocked off the traffic lane closest to the courthouse, giving demonstrators a buffer between the sidewalk and passing vehicles.
Protesters proceeded to Cutler Hall, Ohio University's main administration building on College Green, and laid down on the floor in a 'die-in.' As the group laid silently, students individually listed off why they were there.
The event was primarily organized by students involved with #HandsUpWalkOutOU, a group behind recent demonstrations on campus tied to tense race relations and police brutality.
"I'm here because I feel like the decision not to indict the officer in this case is absolutely disgusting," said Caitlyn Rack, a senior studying fine arts.
Last week, students occupied Baker University Center to protest the lack of indictment of police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri for the shooting of black teenager, Michael Brown.
"I'm so scared," said a protester earlier in the evening, speaking on the Athens County Courthouse steps. "I'm scared for the children I don't have. I'm scared for the husband I haven't met yet."
The chants shouted through a megaphone, which echoed across campus and Uptown Athens that evening, including: "no justice, no peace;" "Hands up, don't shoot;"; "I can't breathe;" and "back up, back up, we want freedom, freedom, tell them dirty racist cops we don't need em, need em."
Pyle said he's "offended" when he hears protesters call law enforcement racist, but doesn't believe the protest was directed at Athens Police Department.
The demonstrators dissipated at roughly 7:15 p.m.
"This is a really good discussion we're having, and I think it needs to be had," Ryant Taylor, an organizer of #HandsUpWalkOutOU events, said.