Protests at St. Louis University – TRNN Reports From Ferguson
Over 1,500 people marched on Saint Louis University’s campus as a part of Ferguson October and the National Day of Civil Disobedience
MEGAN SHERMAN, PRODUCER: On Sunday, October 12, a large crowd crept through the Shaw neighborhood in the south side of St. Louis. Demonstrators wielding signs and posters were led on a winding path in their attempts to avoid police.
There were a number of marches that turned violent following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department.
Fifteen-year-old Low Key, who is a member of the Lost Voices, describes why he believes marching through the streets is a good way to make people aware of the issues at hand.
LOW KEY, ORGANIZER, LOST VOICES: –like, ’cause you ain’t going to stop your day and hear me out if I’m walking on the sidewalk, telling you I feel sad and I’m sad because Darren Wilson has killed someone somebody three years older than me and we might not get justice and that might be me in three years. You’re not going to listen to me say that from the sidewalk. But if I’m in the street yelling in your face with my signs up, maybe then you’ll take your time out your day to hear me out.
SHERMAN: The distant lights from patrol cars flickering in the fog, along with the chirrups of the crickets and the screeching of trains bypassing below, added to the eeriness as the group stood waiting for people who’d fallen behind.
MARCHER: Hey, yo, we’re waiting on y’all at the top of the hill! We are waiting for y’all!
MARCHER: Hurry up, family! Hurry up!
SHERMAN: As the crowd approached, officers blocking the road rattled batons against their shin guards in what seemed to be a part of their intimidation strategy.
The lead organizers and their legal advisers negotiated with police as the stream of protesters came to a halt. After a few minutes of chatter, law enforcement officials allowed the mass of people to continue on.
To everyone’s surprise, they were then led onto the Saint Louis University campus, where stunned students gawked out of their classroom windows. The protest chants quickly changed as demonstrators called on the students to join the march and to show solidarity with the movement.
MARCHERS: Out of the door and get into the streets!
SHERMAN: Deruga, one of the main organizers, spoke about how the success of this demonstration is a testament to how powerful people can be when they’re organized.
DERUGA, LOCAL ORGANIZER: [crosstalk] you do, you do parades with police escorting you. That does nothing to break down these systemic issues that we deal with every day of our lives. Black, white, brown, blue, red, everybody suffers from these issues. And this thing right here that we’re doing right now, this is not only a symbolism of what we can do when we stick together; this is–it’s the beginning of a change in our consciousness as a people.
SHERMAN: VonDeritt Myers Sr., father of the recently deceased VonDerrit Myers Jr., who was shot by police officer just four days prior, thanked everyone for participating.
VONDERRIT MYERS SR., FATHER OF SLAIN TEENAGER: This let me know that my son was loved and he’s still being love right now as we all come together out here.
SHERMAN: They then declared that they would be staging a sit-in on the campus to protest Columbus Day.
PROTESTER: Columbus represents–he’s a thief. He’s a guy who takes over things that’s not his.
We are here to reclaim our city. I know this was a college a couple of hours ago, but as of right now, this is our spot and we’re not going nowhere. This is a sit-in. This is a sit-in. We’re not going nowhere. This is our land. Everybody get comfortable.
SHERMAN: A number of SOU students came out to stand with protesters, and even stayed until the early hours of the morning to participate in a teach-in.
On the following Monday, members of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and participants in Ferguson October protested outside of a fundraiser for Steve Stinger, the candidate for county executive known for his close ties to defenders of Darren Wilson and Bob McCulloch, the county attorney who has so far refused to bring charges against Wilson.
Some protesters chant along with others who are arrested for attempting to enter the building where the fundraiser is being held.
PROTESTERS: Hands up! Don’t shoot!
PROTESTERS: Indict! Convict! Send that killer cop to jail!
SHERMAN: Rev. Audrey Hollis of the Greater St. Mark Family Church explains why she and others are protesting outside of the benefit.
REV. AUDREY HOLLIS, ASSOC. MINISTER, GREATER ST. MARK FAMILY CHURCH: –because neither one of them has stood up, spoke out to be on our side. Where’s the people that elected them? We need to know that our officials are standing with us. So that’s why we’re here. And we want Bob McCulloch to be recused from this case.
SHERMAN: Then why do you want him to be off of the case? Why?
HOLLIS: Because we don’t feel like we will get justice. He is the prosecuting–over the prosecuting attorneys. There has been no indictment filed against Darren Wilson. We are human, we are people, we are U.S.A. citizens, whether they want to say we are or not. And we deserve justice.
SHERMAN: Hezekiah McCaskill, who is a student at Webster University, talks about why he feels like politicians like Senator McCaskill should be in support of the organizers’ work to end police brutality.
HEZEKIAH MCCASKILL, STUDENT, WEBSTER UNIVERSITY: And we feel like we need to make our voice heard. You know? We need the politicians who preach a message to us during their campaign run to follow through on that message. And that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to make sure that they follow through on their promises, because we’re tired of the broken promises and we’re of the systematic racism. So we’re out here to destroy systematic racism, to destroy hundreds of years of our oppression, and just bring an end to it. You know, everybody needs to see our humanity. They need to see that we’re [local (?)]. You know. So that’s what we’re out here for. We’re fighting for a cause. And we’re fighting. We’re fighting. We’re not letting this go.
SHERMAN: Activists participated in a series of sit-ins and marches as a part of the national day of civil disobedience, or Moral Monday, which is a tenm first coined by religious leaders and organizers in North Carolina.
An action at the Ferguson Police Department led by clergy from around the country ended with a number of individuals being arrested, which included Dr. Cornell West and others. The activists who stand in solidarity with those outraged by the killing of John Crawford by police in an Ohio Walmart responded by targeting the local stores in St. Louis. There were hundreds who participated in the slew of flash mob like protests on Monday and reportedly over 75 people arrested for civil disobedience.
Demonstrators were still energized as they waited outside of one of the local jails for those who had been arrested earlier in the day to be released.
The string of actions and demonstrations from this past weekend is just the beginning of what is a continuous local and national effort to bring the issues surrounding the police-involved shootings of African Americans like Michael Brown and others to light.
This is Megan Sherman reporting from The Real News Network.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.