N.C. Central University students and faculty members walked out of class Monday morning to meet in the library bowl in solidarity against what they believe has been inaction and “indifference” regarding the Sept. 17 shooting death of senior DeAndre Ballard by an off-campus security guard.
Before the protest, organizer and mass communication junior Jamielyn Riggin told reporters that she organized the walkout and #WeSoarAsOne hashtag campaign to bring further awareness about Ballard’s death on a Durham- and nationwide level and “really hone in on the fact that men in uniform cannot continue to shoot and kill people without first trying other methods of proactive measures.”
The Army veteran and second-degree student said that the protest was calling out four groups: the NC Detective Agency, whose employee shot Ballard and stands by said employee’s actions; the Durham Police Department and NCCU for their “lack of transparency” in statements delivered to the community about the incident; and NCCU’s student body, to stand with Riggin in protesting the actions of the university and law enforcement agencies involved.
“I want this (walkout’s) message to be ‘it could have been me,'” Riggin said. “It could have been any one of my classmates, and it could very well be someone who is coming up next in Eagle generations.”
The walkout began at 10:25 a.m., 11 hours and 50 minutes before Ballard was shot two weeks prior in the Campus Crossings apartment complex on Cornwallis Road.
“I stand here today because we are afraid,” Riggin told the crowd through a megaphone she was able to get from NCCU’s Department of Theatre and Dance at the last minute. “We are concerned that our university has chosen formality over morality, and no, we do not place blame on you for the death of DeAndre, but the indifference that has been displayed (by NCCU) is alarming.”
As Riggin delivered her speech to the 100 or so students and faculty members in attendance, NCCU Office of Communications and Marketing employees Kia Bell and Quiana Shepard stood away from the crowd in the bowl level below.
Neither woman provided further comment on behalf of the university after the protest concluded beyond the second statement broadcasted to the student body on Sept. 27.
In last Saturday’s statement, the university insists that they are not associated in any way, contractually or otherwise, with Campus Crossings and states that “NCCU does not endorse or recommend any specific rental property for students,” though the Division of Student Affairs has distributed lists of nearby apartment complexes for students to consider renting from in recent years.
After her speech, Riggin ceded the megaphone to business administration sophomore Amaiya Gaddie. For Gaddie, as she told the crowd, Ballard’s shooting hit close to home: her brother, 23-year-old Demario Lucas, was shot 6 times and killed at a homecoming party he attended at Campus Crossings with other NCCU students in October 2013.
The 19-year-old carried a sign with her that read ‘No shoes. No weapons. No threat.’, explaining how she felt that if DeAndre was unarmed during his altercation with the security guard, then he was likely not a threat that warranted the currently unidentified guard shooting in self-defense, as the NC Detective Agency has claimed on his behalf.
“I’ve got a lot going on right now so I’m numb to everything,” Gaddie said about her current feelings toward the investigation for DeAndre Ballard in relation to her own brother’s death. “I just want to be out here and support everything that’s going on.”
Charges have not been filed against the NC Detective Agency guard who shot Ballard.
Anyone with further information is asked to call Investigator E. Ortiz at (919) 560-4440, ext. 29337 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.