Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Activists Tally FergusonOctober's Strengths, Weaknesses

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Activists Tally FergusonOctober's Strengths, Weaknesses

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * As marchers in the Shaw neighborhood trudged past cinders of American flags burned to protest another shooting of a black youth by a white cop, someone shouted a question that was on everyone's mind.

"Where the hell are we going?"

A protester near the front of the pack bellowed back, "We're just walking."

At the end of the FergusonOctober weekend that drew thousands of protesters to events across the area, some local activists are wondering where they go from here.

Patricia Bynes, of Ferguson, an almost-constant presence on the front lines of protests since the death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, said the weekend's high-energy events injected fresh enthusiasm into the movement.

"It's called a movement for a reason," Bynes, 35, said. "Because it has to keep moving ahead. People are counting on us and we can't let them down. This weekend didn't go perfectly, but we got a lot of momentum out of it."

Among those imperfections, Bynes said, was behavior at protests by some new participants that struck veteran demonstrators as out of sync, if not inappropriate.

In particular, she cited a protest Saturday night in front of the Ferguson police station that, at one point, morphed into a street party.

"That night, the movement felt co-opted. Music was blaring. People were dancing and singing," she said.

"Among us protesters, there was a huge divide. We felt, 'This is not a party. This is a protest.'"

At the other end of the spectrum, Bynes said, were out-of-town protesters who brought anger to spare.

"They displayed a confrontational anger that reminded me of how we felt back on Aug. 9. They were screaming and cursing at police and it was kind of like, 'Whoa!'

"It took us two weeks to work through that type of rage and righteous anger," she said.

Bynes said that, going forward, activists here planned to pressure local and state leaders.

"We are going to start directly engaging the mayors of Ferguson and St. Louis and the Board of Aldermen in the city," she said. "This is where the energy needs to be directed."

A FergusonOctober event on Sunday at the Lafayette Park Methodist Church in Lafayette Square gave an indication of the variety of causes represented at protests over the weekend: Artists for Peace, Church of the Stop Shopping in NYC, anti-gun groups, political action operatives, immigrant rights activists, environmentalists.

All were drawn by the heat and light of the Ferguson movement.

It was to be expected, FergusonOctober spokesman Mervyn Marcano said on Monday.

"People can have academic conversations about the intersection of poverty and race and social justice issues, and this is a situation that brings all of that to bear," said Marcano, 29, of Oakland, Calif.

But that did not mean the Ferguson message got muddled, he said.

"From day one, justice for Mike Brown has always meant justice for all. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.