Die-In Protest on the U-M Diag

People lying on Diag in protest.
University of Michigan Diag.

A die-in happened on the University of Michigan Diag this week to support the Black Lives Matter movement and to protest the lack of action in the multiple police killings of unarmed black folks, including Aura Rosser of Ann Arbor. The die-in was one of many protest events happening around campus and was led by the University of Michigan branch of the NAACP and the Black Student Union. I joined my friend and colleague, Matt Mancour, to participate in the die-in – as it was open to all people – and to try and capture the message of the event. I took photographs and assisted Matt with video interviews of some of the participants.

The die-in lasted an hour and throughout that hour there were constantly people joining in or rising from the massive pile of bodies. I took a quick break from photographing to be a participant myself. I only lasted about ten minutes before the cold overtook me, but was a strangely calming and reflective moment. Never had I laid in one of the most busy spots on campus, nor had I done it with so many others in complete silence. The cold quickly swept through my body as I lied on the wintery bricks, and I spent my short time on the ground thinking about race, violence, police brutality, the families of those who were killed. I realized that I had thought of all of these things many times before, but not in such a way where that was the only thing I was thinking of. Realization of this privilege was a major takeaway for me.

Another takeaway was the incredible voices that were heard that day. Following the die-in were speeches by several students and organizations. Additionally, we captured many incredible responses from those who were willing to do brief video interviews. These folks had such powerful things to say that I admit having difficulty editing it into a quick, shareable video. I strongly encourage you to watch and listen to the folks who were willing to express their thoughts and opinions on current events and racism in our country. Their words stuck with me and I hope they do to you, too.

More information about this die-in can be found in these local new reports:
MLive – Die-In at the Diag
Michigan Daily – More than 200 students lie on the Diag to protest police brutality

Activism Technology

The Day We Fight Back

We had participated in The Day We Fight Back to protest and fight back against the NSA’s illegal mass surveillance program. A forecasted high temperature of 11°F did not stop John and me from heading outside to join the protest. We took the day off from work and traveled to East Lansing to protest near Welles Hall at the Michigan State University. Upon arrival, we were met by two incredible MSU students who had come to help and brave the cold. They discovered us through some Reddit posts I had made to promote the protest.

Two people talking beside a sign that says, "The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance"
Protest at Michigan State University.


We also had friends at Utah Valley State University and the University of Michigan join us in the protest and we hooked them up with some of our info cards and buttons to pass out as well.

Sign with multiple eyes and text that says, "The Day We Fight Back".
Sign used at Utah Valley State University.


John made about 500 cards to hand out, his father built the A-frame signs for our posters, and I pressed almost 300 buttons and printed posters using the Day We Fight Back imagery. All items we handed out directed people to the official website where they could learn more about the issue and also contact their legislation.

Many of those we spoke to had not heard of the NSA and were not aware of Edward Snowden’s leaks. One person gave us a passive, “but they’re protecting us”, but for the most part people seemed to be mostly unaware of the NSA or any surveillance and were open to The Day We Fight Back message.