A young black man standing stoically in Union Station drew the attention of passersby, including one celebrity.
Actress Shailene Woodley, who starred in the “Divergent” film series, stopped to talk to Ayinde Wilson. He was holding a sign on which he had written in green marker, “Will I become the next endangered species?”
Woodley was spotted taking Wilson’s picture and talking with his friend, who was standing nearby. Wilson said he didn’t know who she was.
A handful of other people walking by stopped to shake his hand and take his picture. Wilson, 28, stood silently, staring straight ahead. He said he did not want to be disruptive. Rather, he wanted to make people think.
“I want people to notice the sign instead of my mouth. It’s just something that I felt inspired to do,” Wilson said. “And it’s a real question. It is a real question. Will the black man become the next endangered species?”
Last week, two black men were shot and killed by police officers — Alton Sterling, 37, outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile, 32, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. The first incident and the aftermath of the second were captured on video.
The killings sparked protests across the country, and were central to the shooting of more than a dozen police officers, five fatally, in Dallas last week. The gunman said he wanted to kill white people, especially white police, authorities said.
Wilson said the Dallas shooting was garnering more attention than the issue of African-American deaths.
“[Police] are killing us. We’re killing us. And that’s the issue,” Wilson said. “And nobody [is] speaking about that. Nobody [is] really talking about that. All this coverage of cops being shot, but black people are being shot everyday.”
Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Republican senator, told The (Charleston) Post and Courier that he was surprised his GOP colleagues did not comment on Sterling and Castile’s deaths, but did acknowledge the police officers who lost their lives. The South Carolina Republican has launched a series of floor speeches to call for unity.