Panelist Daniel “Nane” Alejandrez spoke about his time as a student at UCSC. Alejandrez is the founder of Barrios Unidos, a violence prevention organization. Photo by Stephen De Ropp.
Panelist Daniel “Nane” Alejandrez spoke about his time as a student at UCSC. Alejandrez is the founder of Barrios Unidos, a violence prevention organization. Photo by Stephen De Ropp.
itting far right, panelist Ashley Yates grew up next to Ferguson in Florissant and is now based in St. Louis. Yates is a community organizer and the co-founder of Millennial Activists United. Photo by Stephen De Ropp.
Sitting far right, panelist Ashley Yates grew up next to Ferguson in Florissant and is now based in St. Louis. Yates is a community organizer and the co-founder of Millennial Activists United. Photo by Stephen De Ropp.

Ferguson, Missouri and the killing of Michael Brown can be seen as a microcosm of practices like militarized police, increased surveillance and structural racism that surface in cities all over the United States — these were the discussion topics at a panel on Tuesday called “Deconstructing Ferguson.”

Organized by College Nine and Ten’s Cocurricular Programs Office, the panel featured legal studies and sociology professor Hiroshi Fukurai, Barrios Unidos founder Daniel “Nane” Alejandrez, fourth-year UC Santa Cruz student and African/Black Student Alliance member Jocqui Smollett and Millennial Activists United co-founder Ashley Yates.

In the one hour discussion followed by a brief Q&A session, panelists voiced their opinions on what Ferguson represented to them, failures within the legal system that result in police officers facing little to no consequences after fatally shooting civilians, and comparing the legacy of the civil rights movement.

Smollett spoke about the racism he has experienced while at UCSC, which often manifests itself in daily interactions or in less traditional ways like cyber racism.

“What I notice here is the microaggressions that really get under your skin,” Smollett said. “It’s the everyday of explaining to people why what they say is offensive.”

Panelists were also asked if there were any solutions or actions a community could take to work toward ending racism, to which Yates responded, “I don’t see racism as the issue. Racism is a symptom of the issue. The issue is white supremacy. The issue is white supremacist notions.”