Protesters pledge civil disobedience during a “Weekend of Resistance” in Ferguson
Ferguson, Missouri (CNN) — Civil rights activists seeking prosecution of the police officer who killed Michael Brown advanced a second day of protests Saturday in Missouri, with no arrests, injuries or property damage reported in the first day of marches, St. Louis County police said.
The absence of police action came as protesters pledged acts of civil disobedience during a “Weekend of Resistance” in Ferguson, Missouri, and surrounding area.
Demonstrations on Friday night focused on the Ferguson Police Department, which is facing a storm of criticism after a white police officer shot and killed Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed, on August 9.
A large group of protesters marched the West Florissant corridor — the scene of looting and vandalism last month — to the police headquarters. Then they proceeded to the city of St. Louis, said St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman.
The diverse, multigenerational crowd declared their attempt to create a national movement about alleged police abuses against minorities as “vitally important,” as one demonstrator said. Protesters hailed from California, Illinois and Kansas.
“We have people from all across the United States to stand in one accord for justice in this matter,” Reginald Rounds, who lives in the same apartment complex where Brown resided, said Saturday.
“We are not going to stop addressing the matter until we get some resolve. We’ll be here,” Rounds said.
Shouts for justice
Chants demanding “justice for Mike Brown” rang out into the night early Saturday as protesters marched in a St. Louis suburb to highlight fatal police shootings.
Organizers, who describe the shootings as racially motivated, said they expect thousands to attend four-day events planned until Monday.
The early Saturday protests featured a few hundred people as police in riot gear stood watch.
“No justice, no peace!” they chanted. “Hands up don’t shoot!” Others carried placards that read, “demilitarize the police.”
As protesters stared down police officers standing in a single file, an announcement came on the megaphone. “If you touch a police officer, you will be arrested for assault,” it said.
The protests kicked off Friday afternoon when demonstrators invoked a Mexican Halloween tradition and set up a Day of the Dead altar to memorialize Brown and others. The altars featured candles, flowers and photos of the deceased.
Men in dark suits quietly carried coffin made of mirrors down the streets as chanting protesters followed.
A few hours later, the crowd dispersed.
This weekend’s protests dubbed “Ferguson October” and the “Weekend of Resistance” will focus on the last month’s encounter between Brown and Police Officer Darren Wilson, who authorities said shot Brown after he attacked him and tried to take his gun. But witnesses offered a starkly different version: They said the unarmed teenager had his hands in the air when he was shot.
His shooting prompted weeks of protests in Ferguson, which sometimes became violent when demonstrators and police clashed.
Demands for officer’s arrest
Before this week, protests had died down considerably.
The goal of the protests planned for Friday through Monday is to demand Wilson’s arrest and bring attention to what organizers describe as racial profiling and police violence nationwide.
“Our country can no longer deny the epidemic of police violence facing black and brown communities,” the movement’s website states. “Mike Brown is now part of a long list of people like John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant and countless others who have been unjustly killed by police. Their lives mattered.”
Twelve miles away in St Louis, protesters have also rallied against the death of Vonderrit Deondre Myers, 18.
Protests erupted there after a white police officer fatally shot the black teenager. But this one was different from the Brown case because the teenager was armed and fired at the officer, according to authorities.
Days of protests
The Ferguson march features four days of planned events.
Activists and protesters plan to march through downtown St. Louis on Saturday in a show of unity against police violence nationwide, organizers said.
Several other events will be held Sunday, including an evening meeting of “reflection and resistance” at St. Louis University with author and professor Cornel West, rapper-activist Tef Poe and and Rabbi Susan Talve.
A closing ceremony Monday will feature participants removing items from the Day of the Dead memorial, organizers said.
Their goal is to “build momentum” for a nationwide movement to address police violence, they said.
The official schedule also calls for “a series of actions throughout the Ferguson and St. Louis area” exercising civil disobedience.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand,” organizers said.