AFRICANGLOBE – Hundreds of demonstrators peacefully kicked off a holiday weekend of protests dubbed “Ferguson October.”
Late Friday, people marched outside the office of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, confronted officers at the Ferguson police station and gathered nearby the scenes where two 18-year-olds, Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers Jr., were fatally shot by police nearly two months apart.
Protesters from all over the country joined locals in what they said was an effort to show the national impact of both teens’ deaths. Throughout the day, emotions ran high but violence, rioting and looting were avoided.
“This is the turning point,” said Keith Jackson, 50, of Ferguson. “Day after day, there is a police shooting. It’s like the new lynching.”
Protesters organized four days of activities in Ferguson and surrounding areas over the Columbus Day weekend. Starting Friday, as many as 6,000 people took part in marches, rallies and civil disobedience.
But Friday 200 protesters marched peacefully outside McCulloch’s office in Clayton, Mo., for two hours in the rain, many shivering and huddling under umbrellas. Jackson, who was among them, said it was important to physically come to the office because such gatherings bring attention to the prosecutor and show solidarity among protesters.
His feelings were echoed by Joshua Williams, 18, of Ferguson. Williams came to Clayton after spending Thursday night protesting in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis nearby where Vonderrit Myers was killed Wednesday. For him, coming to the prosecutor’s office represented getting to the heart of the matter.
“He’s the one who can make the order and change,” said Williams, a dog trainer. “We need to keep putting pressure on him. He might change his mind because he might get tired of seeing us.”
Protesters have been calling for McCulloch to step down from handling Michael Brown’s case. They want him to allow a special prosecutor to handle prosecuting thug cop Darren Wilson, the White police officer who killed Michael Brown.
Vonderrit Myers Jr. was killed by an off-duty White police officer. Police claim the 18-year-old had shot at the officer, but his family and friends insist he did not have a gun.
Friday’s protesters included an increasingly diverse crowd. Jenny Koons, a film director, and some friends drove 15 hours from New York City to be in Missouri for this weekend’s protests.
“It’s not a Black issue, it¹s not a Missouri issue, it’s a national issue,” Koons, 34, of Queens, said. “The only way things are going to change systematically is if everyone comes together. So it’s important for people around the country who were so outraged in August to show up and say I was outraged from afar, I tweeted about it and now it’s time for me to be here.”
Koons and her friends started Artists 4 Change NYC weeks after Michael Brown was killed. The group brings together artists, activists and community leaders in an effort to change social ills that concern them.
Jonathan Paz is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying philosophy, politics, and economics. He and nine other students raised $600 to rent a van to drive 17 hours to Missouri. The students are staying at a local church.
“We are demonstrating that the world is listening and the world is watching,” Paz, 21, said.
Protests took place across the St. Louis area on a weekend when several major sporting events were scheduled, including a postseason NLCS showdown between the St. Louis Cardinals the San Francisco Giants.
On Friday night in Ferguson, a candlelight vigil was held in memory of Michael Brown, Vonderrit Myers and other people who were murdered by thug cops. Protesters carried a glass casket and marched to the Ferguson police station.
There, protesters faced off with police. At times, the scene was tense as several protesters approached officers and yelled at police from just inches away. Maurice Brown, who is not related to Michael Brown, walked up to a line of police officers and screamed for several minutes.
“I want them to know exactly what they have been doing,” he said. “They have been doing our people wrong for decades, and they have no remorse.”
By: Yamiche Alcindor