Alpha Phi Alpha hosts anti-violence rally, march


NIU students participate in Breaking the Ice, a rally to protest violence, held across campus Wednesday afternoon. Students gathered to pray in Central Park, led by members of Alpha Phi Alpha.

By Hailey Kurth

Over 200 people gathered at the MLK Commons yesterday to “break the ice against violence” at an event hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Alandis Phillips, senior sociology major and president of Alpha Phi Alpha, said to “break the ice” means to speak out. Phillips said the group decided to have the event in light of violence occurring in the DeKalb and Chicago area. A younger brother of Darrell Nelson, senior sociology major and vice president of Alpha Phi Alpha, was shot about a month ago in Chicago, Phillips said, which also sparked the idea for the event.

“I know in the media the Trayvon Martin case is real prevalent right now,” Phillips said. “I really think that, although that case deserves a lot of media attention, we can’t turn a cheek on our own communities.”

Wednesday also marked the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who was once a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Phillips said. He said the group planned a march after the rally to symbolize what King used to do for the civil rights movement. The memory of King should serve as a reminder of the importance of speaking out against violence, Phillips said.

“If we don’t act against these heinous crimes, we’re going to keep losing our leaders of today and tomorrow,” Phillips said in his opening speech.

CHANCE counselor David Seymour said violence is a disease that has plagued the U.S. not just recently but even 44 years ago, when King was assassinated as well.

“Here we are, 44 years later, still trying to figure out how we’re going to overcome it,” Seymour said.

Fraternity brothers of Steven Agee II, who was shot and killed in DeKalb Nov. 23, 2011, also gathered at the podium to speak about violence. Chris Pitts, Kappa Alpha Psi member, said there are too many children who live in a culture of violence.

“Every day I think about my brother, Steve Agee, and the potential he had as a college student graduating just a month from now,” Pitts said.

Steven Agee’s mother, Kimberly Agee, said she has had a true awakening in life and has a reason to fight. She said what happened to her son was senseless, but could happen to anyone.

“I didn’t send him to college to bring him home in a body bag,” Agee said. “No one here is exempt. No one. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.”

Agee said the rally for violence should not stop at the end of the night, or at the end of Alpha Week. This violence rally needs to be a rally from one’s soul – from the gut-up rather than the throat-out, Agee said.

“Next week someone’s going to be lying on the ground bleeding, and someone is going to have to go and identify her baby’s body,” Agee said. “So, what do you want to do? Is it just about today? Or is it about making a change tomorrow?”

Ryan Hurrins, sophomore computer and electrical engineering major, said he attended the event because he is tired of the violence he sees while living in Chicago and DeKalb. Hurrins said he thought the event went very well, but he’s nervous the enthusiasm for the cause might not last.