The Latino Student Alliance, Black Student Alliance, and other allies gathered for a joint lecture meeting on Oct. 26. This was the first time in several years that the two organizations among others, came together for a solidarity lecture provided by their own. Sophomore Ontario Duley, Junior Juan Levario, and Sophomore Denisse Romero spoke about the current racial issues that are present on the University of Denver’s campus, as well as across the nation.
Duley spoke about a young man named Alex Landau from Denver, Colorado. Landau was brutality assaulted by police back in 2009 after a traffic violation.
“Landau was pulled over by Denver Police on the night of January 15, 2009 for making an illegal left turn,” said Duley, “his friend was carrying marijuana, but he himself had no illegal possessions.” Landau’s friend was a Caucasian male. Police continued to handcuff him and told him to sit on the curb. Police started to search the vehicle for any other illegal substances. Landau asked for a search warrant, and that is when two police officers grabbed him by the arms and started to assault him.
“Landau was punched in the face several times while an officer yelled out racial slurs.” Continued Duley. One of the Denver Police officers screamed to two other officers that Landau was reaching for a gun. Landau put his hands up and insisted that he was not. Police officers still pointed a gun to his head and threatened to kill him if he didn’t calm down.
The room was absolutely silent as Duley showed the audience a video that unraveled the events that happened on the night of January 15, 2009. The audience was mortified as they learned that Alex Landau was not carrying a concealed weapon. He was pulled over for a traffic violation and there was no need for him to step out of the vehicle in the first place.
“I want everyone in the audience to know that this happened here. In happened here in Denver. This could’ve been one of our family members. This could happen to us one day. Police brutality is not a myth and the Black Lives Matter movement is not a political gang.” Said Duley as he wrapped up the conversation about Alex Landau.
Everyone in the room listened attentively. The audience consisted of people from all different racial backgrounds. There were Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans all spread out like a quilt of different colors. They came together for this lecture, to learn more about what exactly the Black Lives Matter movement stands for, and why some people add a negative connotation to it.
“There will always be a spoiled apple. And when one apple is spoiled, everyone assumes that they are all like that.” Says Juan Levario. The Black Lives Matter movement was originally created to bring awareness to cases like Alex Landau’s through civil protests and the spread of love and unity.
Juan Levario from Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, and Denisse Romero from Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, ended the lecture with a powerpoint that demonstrated how Latinxs in society are marginalized.
“Not too long ago in Denver, there was a 16 year old Hispanic girl who was driving a stolen vehicle. Police didn’t even give her a chance to stop the car before they shot her point blank.” Said Levario. He went on to talk about how one of his favorite rappers, Kendrick Lamar, wrote a song about why young people need to act on these human rights violations, right now. You can’t wait until you’re 40 years old with a family, and have a lot of other responsibilities. Change needs to happen now. Right now that we have the fuel, the energy, and the dedication.
Ian Pham, a transgender student, raised his hand and said, “I just want everyone to know that Aurora Police, Denver Police, and the Colorado Springs Police Department have all came out recently that they are endorsing Donald Trump.” People in the crowd gasped, and outraged conversations rippled across the room. “That’s why we have to come together, for change. To prevent things like this from ever happening in our streets again.”