PRINT ONLY: Hundreds Rally for a Day of Civil Disobedience

By reports, From | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 11, 2015 | Go to article overview

PRINT ONLY: Hundreds Rally for a Day of Civil Disobedience


reports, From, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


ST. LOUIS * Under the shadow of a state of emergency declaration in St. Louis County, protesters mobilized Monday for a choreographed day of civil disobedience, shutting down a key commuter artery and staging demonstrations downtown, in Clayton and in Ferguson.

More than 100 people were arrested as the protests tied to the year-ago shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer drew activists from across the country.

An additional 10 people were arrested Monday night after police used pepper spray to clear West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson. Police said some in the crowd of protesters threw rocks and water bottles at officers. No major injuries were reported.

The day of demonstrations commenced just hours after violence marred anniversary observances over the weekend. Late Sunday, multiple gunshots fired on and near West Florissant Avenue left at least three people wounded on top of the one injured in a shooting late Saturday.

The incidents prompted St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger on Monday afternoon to declare a state of emergency, turning oversight of the Ferguson situation over to County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

Stenger later said in an interview that he had not ruled out imposing a curfew on Ferguson, depending on events Monday night.

"The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger," Stenger said. "The time and investment in Ferguson and Dellwood will not be destroyed by a few that wish to violate the rights of others."

Stenger's order effectively puts county police in charge of security surrounding the protests, instead of Ferguson police.

"As we work with the St. Louis County Police, who will now assume responsibility over any protest-related incidents we are asking for peace," Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said in a statement. "We want to reassure our residents and businesses that the Ferguson Police Department will continue to answer calls from our citizens."

ACTIONS AND ARRESTS

Monday's demonstrations dubbed "Moral Monday" kicked off in the morning with about 150 demonstrators gathered at Christ Church Cathedral downtown to plan a march and discuss methods of civil disobedience.Then the protesters marched to the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse. After arriving about noon at the courthouse, the protesters were backed by a chanting chorus of "DOJ, do your job," referring to the U.S. Department of Justice, while they read from a petition that asked the federal government to disband the Ferguson Police Department.Several of the familiar faces of last year's Ferguson protests the Revs. Mike Kinman, Renita Lamkin, Osagyefo Sekou and Rabbi Susan Talve gave speeches and implored protesters to maintain their fight for justice.

"We have to change the way we do business," Talve said, calling for an overhaul of the U.S. justice system. She then produced a cruet of holy oil and said, "We're going to take this oil and spill it everywhere."

Kinman then implored protesters to dip their hands in it and touch the stones of the federal building.

Shortly before 1 p.m., more than 50 protesters climbed over the barricades that had been set up outside the courthouse and sat down, locked arms and began singing and chanting.

When that move did not produce any arrests after about 20 minutes, the seated group rose and rushed toward the front door of the courthouse, and sat down again. Shortly after that, about 30 members of the St. Louis Police Department arrived on the scene, and arrests began.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said in a statement that 57 people were arrested. He estimated the total number of protesters between 100 and 200 and characterized the protest as peaceful. …

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