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Eyewitness Account of Ferguson, St. Louis protests against police violence

By Shivaani Ehsaan |
October 15, 2014
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Cops lined up at Ferguson protest
Cops lined up at Ferguson protest (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Ferguson, MO - Thousands protested here Oct. 10 to demand Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson be jailed for the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In August, the white police officer shot Michael Brown dead, as the unarmed African American youth held his hands up in the air. The people of Ferguson wasted no time in showing their outrage as they took to the streets, calling for the police officer to go to jail. Protesters are now demanding justice as a grand jury meets to decide whether to bring charges against Wilson.

On Oct. 11, thousands of protesters arrived in downtown Saint Louis and marched through the streets. The crowd was full of energy as groups of African American organizers and anti-police brutality activists from all over the country joined in. The crowd chanted, "Send these killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!"

Later in the day, hundreds of protesters, mostly youth, marched on the Ferguson police station. The militant crowd chanted, "If Mike Brown don't get it, we gonna shut this shit down!” Police officers blocked the entrance as they stared expressionless at the singing and dancing protesters. Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown praised the protesters for their determination. She closed the protest by pleading, “Do not stop until justice is reached.”

Next, 100 protesters gathered on the Southside of Saint Louis to protest the murder of another 18-year-old, Vonderrit Myers. Myers was shot 17 times by an off- duty Saint Louis police officer.

As the Fight Back! news team walked to Shaw Street, they confronted a racist white vigilante. The vigilante banged his baseball bat from a third floor residence, shouting, "Stop looting. Go home. Nobody wants you here." He then ran out on the street, threatening to use his bat on the group. The team showed no fear and one stepped up to bravely confront the man. The racist immediately went back into his house. Next the team faced a police checkpoint, before finding other protesters.

Despite the intimidation, protesters showed great courage and marched, chanting, "Mike Brown means, we gotta fight back!" As soon as the 100-plus contingent reached the gas station near the shooting site of Myers, the Saint Louis police met them with full force. The police were dressed in riot gear, armed with batons, pepper spray, tear gas and mace. Buses full of police vans showed up to arrest people and the department brought a military vehicle. Police surrounded protesters on all sides as people sat in at the entrance of the gas station. Police beat the people doing peaceful civil disobedience with batons, used pepper spray and arrested 14 who continued to maintain their position. Those who escaped to the sidewalk and followed the police orders were not spared either. They were met with tear gas, mace and pepper spray. The police lied to the media about rocks being thrown, when there were none to be found.

The next day, Oct. 12, led by Saint Louis University (SLU) students, people marched from Shaw Street down to campus. 1000 marched silently down the road, on their way to the university, but were met once again with a police riot team. The police did their best to intimidate the people by beating their batons on the ground, but the protesters maintained their ground. They were eventually allowed to pass and go to the SLU campus.

Students and community members decided to occupy the campus into the next day. Echoing Occupy Wall Street, the main organizer announced, "We are here today to fight systematic racism and white supremacy. That does not mean white versus Black or Asian versus Hispanic, but the 99 % versus the 1%". The crowd responded, "You can’t stop the revolution!"

Dream Defender Biko Misabiko who traveled from Jacksonville, Florida stated, "What the people in Ferguson are doing is a model for activism. We need to have militant actions in as many cities as possible.”

Another Dream Defender activist, Naomi Brown stated, "Going to Ferguson changed my life. I feel a great sense of urgency to take action and spread revolution everywhere." As the protests in Ferguson continue, the African American liberation movement is gaining strength as people in other parts of the country organize new groups.