Activists and protesters from all over the world gathered Saturday morning in downtown St. Louis to participate in a march, part of Ferguson October, and show that they stand united against police brutality and racial disparity. The rally started at 10 AM local time and the protesters began marching through the streets shortly after 11 AM. Crowd estimates range anywhere from 1,200 to over 3,000. Organizers of the march had estimated as many as 8,000 participants to be at the event. One thing is certain — people traveled from far and wide to be in St. Louis Saturday.
Prior to the rally, I spoke with Jasmine Falls, a nurse and labor representative from St. Louis, She informed me that roughly 200 nurses, some traveling from as far as California, were participating in the march. Beside the National Nurses Organizing Committee and the California Nurses Association, Jasmine also pointed out that representatives from the Chicago Teachers Union were taking part in the rally and march. Ms. Falls is currently the only labor rep for the 890 union nurses in the St. Louis area. At this moment, only two area hospitals have unionized nurses, but Jasmine is hoping that will change.
Organizations from New York, Oakland, Kansas City and other large metropolitan areas sent representatives to stand in solidarity with the Ferguson protesters. Nations that have suffered through oppression also had people show up for the march. A number of Palestinians attended the march and rally. The same was true of South Africa. Activists from both parts of the world were active and loud throughout the day. Legal observers were on the ground to ensure there were no issues between police and marchers. Amnesty International made sure to make their presence known.
One scene-stealer during the march was a large, paper-mache puppet of Michael Brown. The artist’s concept was to make a likeness that wasn’t seen as degrading or exploitative. Basically, the idea was to show Brown with his hands raised, but on a very large-scale. The concept worked, and the large puppet made a huge impact during the march and at the post-march rally.
During the post-march rally, which took place in St. Louis’ Kiener Plaza, I was able to sit down and talk to a couple of educators from Berea College. The had traveled with their students from Berea, Kentucky to be at the Weekend of Resistance. Monica Jones, the director of the school’s Black Culture Center, and Dr. Alicestyne Turley, an assistant professor and director, both expressed admiration for the young people in Ferguson. They stated that it was amazing how much tireless energy they’ve exhibited in the seeking justice for Brown since he was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th. Both women were impressed with the determination many young activists have had in organizing and energizing others to get behind their cause.
A number of people got up to speak at the post-march rally. St. Louis music artist Tef Poe started things off with a rallying cry. A number of other activists from Ferguson, who have tirelessly protested these past two months, also took turns speaking. The family of VonDerrit Myers were also present. Myers was shot and killed by a St. Louis police officer earlier this week. St. Louis police claim that Myers, 18 at the time of his death, shot at the off-duty police officer after the officer tried to conduct a ‘pedestrian check.’ The officer shot at Myers 17 times, hitting him with at least six shots.
Ferguson October continues through Monday. There are still a number of events still planned.
Below is a gallery of photos taken from the march:
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).