Ferguson protests move to retail stores
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) – Demonstrators sought to catch the attention of shoppers looking for good deals on Friday, going to major retailers around the St Louis area to speak out about a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.
Other Black Friday protests were planned at shopping centres around the nation, though attendance was seemingly sparse aside from in Chicago, where about 200 people gathered near the city’s popular Magnificent Mile shopping district.
Early Friday in the St Louis suburb of Manchester, about two dozen people chanted “no justice, no peace, no racist police” and “no more Black Friday” after police moved them out of a Wal-Mart.
Officers warned the protesters risked arrest if they didn’t move at least 50 feet from the store’s entrance, then began advancing in unison until the protesters moved further into the parking lot. The mostly black group of protesters chanted in the faces of the officers – most of whom were white – as shoppers looked on.
“We want to really let the world know that it is no longer business as usual,” said Chenjerai Kumanyika, an assistant professor at Clemson University.
Since Monday night’s announcement that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, wouldn’t be indicted for fatally shooting the unarmed black 18-year-old in August, protests have occurred in Ferguson and across the country. A dozen buildings and some cars were torched in Ferguson on Monday night and dozens were arrested, but the protests have grown more peaceful as the week went on.
In a plaza near Chicago’s historic water tower, Kristiana Colon, 28, said Friday was “a day of awareness and engagement.” She’s a member of the Let Us Breathe Collective, which has been taking supplies such as gas masks to protesters in Ferguson.
“We want them to think twice before spending that dollar today,” she said. “As long as black lives are put second to materialism, there will be no peace.”
Malcolm London, a leader in the Black Youth Project 100, which has been organizing Chicago protests, said group is trying to rally support for other issues, such as more transparency from Chicago police.
“We are not indicting a man. We are indicting a system,” London told the crowd.
Other planned events around the country seemed relatively brief and thinly attended in contrast to the large demonstrations earlier this week. In Brooklyn, New York, a “Hands Up, Don’t Shop” protest had been scheduled, but no one materialized.
At a shopping centre in the St Louis suburb of Kirkwood, a dozen people gathered and chanted “Black lives matter.” Security was heightened at the Wal-Mart in Ferguson on Friday morning, with military Humvees, police cars and security guards on patrol. The store was busy, but there were no protesters.
A group of about 30 people rode a bus from New York to join in the St Louis-area protests. The group normally focuses on “earth justice” issues, but planned “to stand in solidarity with some of the Michal Brown protesters,” Nehemiah Luckett said.
“It’s low-income communities of colour, the poorest of the poor, that get hit by climate change and state violence” through aggressive police forces, said Monica Hunken, another of the New York protesters.