PROVO -- Brigham Young University students staged a flash mob protest on campus Wednesday to demonstrate against what they said are injustices in the U.S. court system and law enforcement practices.

At exactly 11:55 a.m., 15 students sang "The Hanging Tree," a song from the "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I" film, just as classes were released on campus.

Protesters displayed posters which read, "We Can't Breathe" and "Remembering Eric Garner" to voice their objection when a grand jury recently cleared a New York City police officer in any wrong-doing concerning the death of Eric Garner, who was killed during a confrontation with law enforcement in July.

Rose Hadden, a British literature master's student at BYU, participated in the demonstration, which took place in the courtyard between the Joseph Fielding Smith and Lee Library buildings. She said having national conversations now on race and equality are "desperately important."

"College campuses have traditionally been the place where these conversations happen and where the energy collects," Hadden said, "and BYU hasn't been participating in this conversation as much as maybe it should."

In a video shot by a bystander, Garner, a black man, repeatedly stated, "I can't breathe" as a white police officer placed Garner in a choke hold, a restraining technique prohibited by NYPD.

"It's an important conversation everyone in the nation should be having on whether or not our systems reflect our ideals and whether there really is equality in this country," Hadden said.

Another protester held a poster referencing an excerpt from Doctrine and Covenants D&C 134:3, " ... such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people ... "

Hadden said the violent protests that took place in locales such as Ferguson detract from the real conversation, which she said should be aimed more at discussing U.S. laws and how to enforce those laws.

"The violence that has happened is horrible, but it's not the main issue at hand here. The way that we prevent those (violent protests) from happening is creating a more just society," Hadden said.

Michael Brown, who was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice were also honored during the civil protest.

Rice was shot during a Nov. 22 confrontation with a Cleveland police officer and died the following day. Rice and Brown were both unarmed, black people who were killed by white police officers.

Incidents of controversial law enforcement actions were demonstrated in Utah on Sept. 10 when Darrien Hunt was shot and killed by a Saratoga Springs police officer.

Utah resident Hunt, a 22-year-old black man, engaged with two white Saratoga Springs police officers who were responding to a call indicating a suspicious individual was walking around with a sword.

The two white Saratoga Springs officers were cleared of any wrong-doing in Hunt's death by the Utah Attorney General's office.

​Daily Herald reporter Casey Adams can be reached at or (801) 344-2544 or on Twitter @casey907.