SLS Students Protest Police Actions With ‘Die-In’

Stanford Law School students demonstrate by pretending to be dead.

About 100 Stanford Law School students and more than a dozen faculty and staff members participated in a “Die-In” on Friday to call attention to recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island and to lives lost during police interventions.

At 5 p.m. participants assembled and lay down on the ground in the large rotunda at the entrance to the Neukom Building, simulating death for four-and-a-half minutes to represent the nearly five hours that Michael Brown lay dead and unattended on the street in Ferguson.

“The event was meant to bring attention to the unsettling events that continue to happen in our country,” said Clifford Mpare, JD ’16, co-president of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at the law school.

die-in poster
A poster lists black lives lost during confrontations with police.

He and BLSA Co-President Ashley Williams, JD ’16, organized the Die-In.“The systematic death of black citizens at the hands of police and law enforcement is unacceptable and hurts us all. The event helped us to express our sorrow while sending a silent, peaceful message that black lives matter,” Mpare explained.

Mpare said the event was “hugely successful,” noting, “The sight of 100-plus Stanford Law students on the ground, representing the deaths of countless people at the hands of those meant to protect them, was extremely powerful and, I think, will have a lasting effect.”

Students are already planning other events, including a video campaign and some panels featuring professors and scholars discussing the issue of law enforcement and people of color, according to Williams. On January 5, they are inviting students and faculty to wear a “My Life Mattered” T-shirt that includes the name of one of the unarmed victims of police intervention on the back. The T-shirts can be ordered for $12 from Krista Whitaker at

Students mill around before the Die-In.

The Die-In on Friday was fully supported by Dean M. Elizabeth Magill and Student Affairs. It was the first of several responses the law school community will hold to address the troubling events.

On Tuesday, Dec. 9, staff from Student Affairs and the John and Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law will host an informal drop-in session from 1 to 3 p.m. for students who want a safe place to turn to one another for support.