FERGUSON, Missouri–Supporters of Mike Brown here are officially organized by some of the most powerful left wing interest groups in the nation.
Protesters from around the country gathered in St. Louis, Missouri over the weekend to demand the arrest of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson over his involvement in the August 9 shooting and killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown, while a grand jury deliberates on whether to charge him.
Unlike the protests in August, which evolved into violent stand offs with local law enforcement, as well as looting and destruction of private property, attendees at the four-day “Weekend of Resistance” this week stuck to marching late into the evenings, shouting at law enforcement, and basic civil disobedience. By the end of the August unrest, 155 people were arrested, usually for the charge of “refusing to disperse.”
What changed between August and October?
The images of police suited up in military-looking SWAT gear and vehicles with mounted ear piercing LRAD sound cannons were not in sight, but officers reportedly had such capability on standby. Flash grenades are not being set off, and tear gas canisters are rarely being launched into protest crowds.
Instead, uniformed police officers armed with batons, shields, and pepper spray hold a line in front of their police department as protesters hurl insults. By early Sunday morning, 17 protesters were arrested at a local Quick Trip. Law enforcement says rocks and bottles were thrown, while protesters say no such thing happened.
Local police can no longer arrest protesters for standing in one place for more than five seconds. Following the arrests in August, activists, with the help of the ACLU and others, organized to challenge the tactic, and on October 6 U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry ruled that the “practice of requiring peaceful demonstrators and others to walk, rather than stand still, violates the constitution.” Judge Perry added, “This injunction prevents only the enforcement of an ad hoc rule developed for the Ferguson protests that directed police officers, if they felt like it, to order peaceful, law-abiding protesters to keep moving rather than standing still.”
Secondly, additional players have been added to the mix of protesters. Along with the support of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and a mention from President Barack Obama at the United Nations during his remarks, other liberal interest groups found their way onto the Ferguson issue, including: national LGBT organizations, climate environmentalists, amnesty groups, pro-Palestinian organizations, Christian social justice groups, and Planned Parenthood.
Abortion rights activist Cecile Richards posted on her Facebook page on August 14 an illustration stating, “You deserve to parent your child without fear that he or she will be hurt or killed. Freedom from violence is Reproductive Justice.”
One young woman explained her small cardboard climate sign, saying she is traveling “the world to collect stories from people she meets about water and climate change, starting three weeks during the climate march in New York City and now here. “
“All struggles are connected–racial injustice is linked with climate injustice, and I’m here to show solidarity with this fight because an injustice to one person us an injustice to us all,” she said.
Ferguson resident and pro-Palestinian protester “Jay” equates the issues black Americans face with the Palestinians on the Gaza strip.
“I feel that their struggle is the same as our struggle. We’re both fighting to be free. The same gas canisters the Israelis shoot at them are the same ones they shoot at us–made in the USA. It’s like the gas we sold to Saddam–made in the USA,” He said. “It’s the same issue. It’s all oppression. The oppressed stand with the oppressed and we’re oppressed. All these counties and all these municipalities are oppressed. We’re oppressed.”
However, although protesters appeared as a united front against St. Louis law enforcement, not every local resident is willing to honk their horn in support of the massive crowds blocking main roads, and moderators are sometimes needed to cool heads after hours of shouting at the police.
Additionally, as the music turned louder, activists grew frustrated with a number of individuals on Saturday night who became more festive around the Ferguson Police Department.
How effective have outside political groups been? Organizers hit the streets of Ferguson to register new voters in the wake of the Brown shooting, but as of October 7, USA Today reported, only 128 new Ferguson voters registered.
At least three shooting incidents involving a St. Louis police officer and a young black male have happened since the events of August 9. On August 19, St. Louis law enforcement shot a burglary suspect dead after he allegedly robbed a convenience store with a knife. Police claim the suspect charged at them. In late September, a Ferguson police officer was shot in the arm after a confrontation with two men at a community center.
According to authorities, the individuals ran away and opened fire when the officer chased them on foot. More recently, an off-duty St Louis police officer working for a private security firm hired to patrol a neighborhood shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit D. Myers on Wednesday night. Early reports say Myers was armed and shot at the officer; Myers’ family denies he was armed.