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Who's Who of Ferguson Protests: Leaders, Activists

Categories: Michael Brown

The Celebrities

Ferguson's meteoric rise to public interest compelled St. Louis' most famous natives to leave their mark, as well as the country's two best-known celebrity activists.

Jack Dorsey


Twitter-founder and St. Louis' favorite native-born billionaire arrived in Ferguson on Friday, and he has been live-tweeting and vining his way through the protests ever since. He's even found a new BFF in Alderman Antonio French.

Nelly


Ferguson residents and protesters greeted Nelly with roses when the hip-hop star arrived Monday afternoon, and he reciprocated with a speech asking for the looting and violence to stop.

"We've got to understand that we have options, and stop choosing the reaction option, 'cause at the end of the day, we gonna pay -- our brothers are gonna be the ones in jail," said Nelly. "We don't want to deal with the reality, we just want to be so mad, that we got our own personal agenda."

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Danny Wicentowski
Jesse Jackson addressed a crowd in the back lot of a local church on Saturday.
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson

Opinions diverge on the subject of Al Sharpton's and Jesse Jackson's respective visits to Ferguson last week. Neither man lacks for charisma or a sense of gravitas. For instance, when Sharpton took the dais at the Greater St. Mark Family Church he called upon "100 brothers" to join him before the congregation; he then asked them to commit their youthful energy to protecting the community, not destroying it. A few days later Jackson stood before different crowd at St. Mark's and asked God to "gracefully accept Mike into your loving grace...we who are left will tell the story."

Critics say both men are opportunists who milk tragedy for a few spotlights and then jet off to the next gig. Jackson managed to anger his crowd by asking them for $100 donations to the church, and Shartpon's mainstream-media presence makes some here suspicious of his motives. As one Ferguson man succinctly put it -- " We don't need them here.... They come out here, they shake a few hands, they go to the scene of the crimes, pray and go home. That's not solving nothing."

The Inexplicable

With a protest the size of Ferguson's, you're going to see some things that seem to defy explanation.

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Danny Wicentowski
Thomas the Train made his grand entrance last week.
Thomas the Train
We first spotted Thomas the Train during the paradelike protest Thursday night, and his presence quickly went viral over social media. It returned Tuesday night with a sign proclaiming it the Peace Train, and the next day someone created a Twitter profile for the rolling, anthropomorphic locomotive.

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Mitch Ryals
Well, Superman's hands are up, so it sort of makes sense. Sort of.
Black-Face Superman
As far as weird protest props go, this one takes the cake. Basically, there is a man who carries around this roughly two-and-a-half-foot-tall action figure of the Man of Steel with his face drawn over with black marker. We get strangely uncomfortable just looking at it.

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