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Our View: A morning well spent

It would have been easy enough for Southern Oregon University students to spend Monday of dead week quietly studying for finals, rather than marching in protest of the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. After all, this is Ashland, Ore., where the black population is vanishingly small — SOU had 107 black students in 2013, or 1.8 percent of the student body — and racial unrest is not a common occurrence.

And yet about 60 students decided to voice their disapproval of the decision by a Missouri grand jury not to indict officer Darren Wilson on criminal charges for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown. The SOU protesters were joining demonstrators in cities across the country who gathered and marched in protest of the grand jury decision.

The shooting drew national attention, and triggered discussions about racism and police brutality. The SOU protesters said they hoped to raise awareness. 

The group walked across the SOU campus and then back and forth across Siskiyou Boulevard in the crosswalks, which bottled up traffic. That drew police to the scene, but they kept their distance and did not intervene. Deputy Chief Corey Falls, who was elected Jackson County sheriff in November, said officers monitored the situation to ensure safety.

Congratulations to the students for making a statement about something that concerns them. And bravo to the Ashland Police Department for showing restraint and allowing the demonstration to continue peacefully.