Peaceful Protest for Mike Brown Before Riot Police and Looting Takes Over
On Sunday night in Ferguson, protesters held a vigil for Michael Brown, the unarmed eighteen-year-old who was gunned down by a police officer for reasons that are still unclear. The event started out peacefully, with many people holding signs and candles as they faced hundreds of cops in riot gear. But as the night wore on, vigil candle lights gave way to smashed windows.
Ray Downs Protesters with "hands up."
At around 8 p.m. approximately 500 people marched from the Canfield Green apartment complex where Brown was fatally shot to a corner near the intersection of W. Florissant and Ferguson avenues. The protesters were met by dozens of police carrying shields and batons. Several cops wore gas masks.
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"Michael Brown was my second cousin," said a woman marching with two small children in tow. "These police say they are here to protect and serve. But instead they're slaughtering our children. They can't do that -- it needs to stop."
Ray Downs Police in riot gear at the beginning of protest.
The protest itself didn't appear to have any major incidents. Several protesters stood in front of police and put their hands in the air -- a symbolic gesture referencing Brown, who witnesses say had put his hands in the air before the police officer shot him. At one point, a man with a megaphone who seemed to take on the role of a crowd-leader convinced several people to get on their knees and put their hands in the air directly in front of police.
"Stand down!" he said repeatedly as people got on their knees with both arms in the air while staring down the police. But in a sign of the disorganization among protesters, another man disagreed with the appearance of the gesture.
Ray Downs Protesters kneel down and put their hands up in front of police.
"We need to stand up!" he said. "Everyone stand up!"
A few people got off their knees and did so.
While the protest was peaceful, it was never tranquil. Anger seethed the entire evening, with protesters venting their frustration over what they described as too many years of mistreatment at the hands of the local police with Michael Brown being only the latest -- and possibly most egregious -- example.
Shouting directly into the faces of the police forming the barricade, several protesters called them cowards, child-killers and racists. One woman shouted, "Go home, pigs!" and throughout the night, the chant of "Fuck the police" would recur.
"The anger that you see here today is because for decades, the police have never taken any responsibility or have never been held accountable for police shootings," Jamala Rogers, president of the Organization for Black Struggle, told Daily RFT. "The rage, the anger is justifiable. But we have to direct in a way to create something more positive."
Rogers added that the OBS is working to organize people in the community to to enact changes in how police affect the community, including "know your rights" education.
"That way, we can avoid some of this before it happens," she said.
Most protesters did not engage in any police taunting, but of those who spoke to Daily RFT, the anger was similar. And one detail that was brought up repeatedly was that the officer who shot Brown is on "paid administrative leave" during the investigation.
Click on the next page for videos of police evacuating areas, looting, and more from Ferguson residents condemning the violence...