Largest Ferguson Demonstration Yet Ends With Sit-In

CREDIT: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

Protesters gather on the St. Louis University campus after a march through the streets of St. Louis

More than 1,000 protesters peacefully marched through a St. Louis neighborhood, shutting down an intersection in the early hours of Monday morning. The demonstration ended with a sit-in at St. Louis University.

The New York Times reports that the group demonstrating was “far larger than has been seen on a nightly basis” in protests in Ferguson after the shooting of the black unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in August and another shooting of a black teen just days ago. It was part of a “Weekend of Resistance” with people from around the country flocking to the area to protest police brutality and racism.

The demonstration began just after 11 p.m., with one group shutting down an intersection by jumping rope, playing hopscotch, and throwing footballs as a play on a popular protest chant: “They think it’s a game. They think it’s a joke.” Another group marched silently on the sidewalks and met up with the first. Then all of the demonstrators moved to the university, with the family of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr., who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer last week, at the front. Protest leader Dhoruba Shakur then declared the beginning of the next phase, saying, “I know this was a college a couple of hours ago but as of right now this is our spot and we not going nowhere. This is a sit-in.” It was still going as of 2:45 a.m.

The demonstrations on Sunday evening and Monday morning appear to have gone without any arrests or violence, but protests in the early hours of Sunday morning led to the arrest of 17 people. According to police, protesters marched to a QuikTrip convenience store and tried to force it open, then linked arms to create a human chain. When some didn’t disperse after police orders, officers used pepper spray to get them to comply with the arrests.

Monday morning’s march and sit-in is the first of an expected series of acts of civil disobedience throughout the day. While leaders are keeping the details closely held, they have said they’ll be borrowing strategies from Moral Mondays protests in North Carolina.

After the killing of Michael Brown, protests have regularly erupted, with many demanding the arrest of officer Darren Wilson, who killed Brown; that St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, who is prosecuting the case against Wilson, step down; and reforms to the justice system to stem the killings of black people at the hands of police.