From The New York Times:
At Ferguson March, Call for Labor Day Highway Protest
By MANNY FERNANDEZ and CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
FERGUSON, Mo. — Activists on Saturday called for mass civil disobedience on the highways in and around this St. Louis suburb to protest the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer, with the leaders of one coalition encouraging supporters to stop their cars to tie up traffic on Labor Day.
The announcement came at a peaceful if at times tense march and rally on Saturday that drew more than 1,000 demonstrators to some of the same Ferguson streets where the police clashed with protesters in the days after the killing of Michael Brown. Mr. Brown, 18, was shot Aug. 9 by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department, and his bloody body lay on Canfield Drive for about four and a half hours before it was removed.
Organizers at the rally on Saturday called on demonstrators to drive on Interstate 70 and other area highways at 4:30 p.m. Monday, turn their hazard lights on and stop their vehicles for four and a half minutes to symbolize those four and a half hours that Mr. Brown’s body lay in the middle of the street.
“We’re going to tie it down, going to lock it down,” Anthony Shahid, one of the lead organizers of the rally, told supporters from the stage at a Ferguson park. “I want the highways shut down. I know it’s a holiday, but it won’t be no good holiday.”
Mr. Shahid’s announcement was met with applause by many of the marchers, but it was unclear how many people would take part. Only a few hundred demonstrators were in the park when Mr. Shahid made the announcement. It was also unclear what the authorities planned to do in response to the civil disobedience plan.
The march and rally were organized by a coalition of black activists and leaders largely from the St. Louis region, including state legislators, lawyers, and representatives of the Nation of Islam, the N.A.A.C.P., the New Black Panther Party and the Green Party. Organizers with the group, called the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, said they wanted Saturday’s event to be a peaceful gathering and had coordinated some of the logistics with city, county and police officials. For much of the march and rally, the police had a very light presence compared with the show of force they had made at other protests.
“They’ve already seen the whole world look at the missteps that they made, how they handled the black community like an army going to war in Iraq,” said Akbar Muhammad, an organizer of the demonstration and a top aide to Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. “If they had any sense, they will handle it in a tactful manner.”
The march convened at the site where Mr. Brown was shot dead, in the Canfield Green apartment complex, then wound up at a public park, at one point enduring a heavy rainfall.
“We know about this from the ’60s,” said Jonell Calloway, 64, a retiree from the Army Reserve who said she had been among the first black students at her high school in Alabama and felt some of that same energy now.
“This is an awakening for them,” she said of the young people in St Louis. “We’ve been awake.”
As the march turned into the park, a few dozen protesters began chanting, “Ain’t no justice in the park!” out of frustration that the march was not moving on to the city police station. “If they stop here, a lot of people will feel misled,” said Trinette Buck, 40.
Organizers urged order, intimating that splitting up would not help the protest. But eventually a few did break off, then a few more, then many more walking the two miles along the road, drawing supportive honks along the way. Withing an hour, hundreds had convened outside the police station, chanting, holding signs and even directing traffic on the nearby streets while a line of police officers stood behind police tape.
“There is no fear anymore,” said Ms. Buck. “It’s either stand up or die.”
Thank you The New York Times.
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