Thousands march in St Louis area to protest police violence

Union members, gay rights has also joined the protest

Ferguson: The mother of an unarmed black teenager shot dead by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, walked with hundreds of protesters on Saturday in the St. Louis suburb, as part of a weekend of demonstrations against police violence.

Fresh protests over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown took place just days after an off-duty officer in the city shot and killed another black teen. Organizers sought to maintain order at rallies which drew thousands of people in the St. Louis area.

Michael Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden, whose son died on Aug. 9 when Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot him after what police described as a physical altercation, walked at the front of an evening rally in the suburb.

Protesters have called for the arrest and prosecution of Wilson, and a grand jury is considering the case.

McSpadden, who has criticized Ferguson police over her son's death, has only rarely participated in protests. She eventually left the group, which grew to over 1,000 people and went to Ferguson police headquarters, where marchers sat on the ground in silence.

Ronnette Henderson, 50, who has conducted a nightly vigil outside the building, handed out vegan chili.

"I hope they find the cop guilty, because if not I feel sorry for Ferguson," she said. "There's going to be a lot of bloodshed."


Later in the night, protesters shouted insults at a line of police in helmets and shields. Some of the demonstrators had bandanas and scarves covering their faces, in case of use of pepper spray.

In the weeks immediately following Brown's death, there were some looting incidents and gunshots at demonstrations in Ferguson, and police in riot gear fired tear gas at protesters. Marches in the St. Louis area were peaceful on Saturday and police said they made no arrests at demonstrations throughout the city.

Thousands of protesters in downtown St. Louis marched and rallied at a plaza. Organizers included Hands Up United, an activist group that emerged after Brown's death.

Union members, gay rights activists and people from the Occupy movement joined in. Civil rights organizations and protest groups had invited people from around the U.S. to join vigils and other events in the St. Louis area planned for Friday through Monday.

"This isn't going to stop until there is change with police and black youth," said Tory Russell, one of the founders of Hands Up United.

Early Saturday morning, protesters went to the St. Louis neighborhood of Shaw, where on Wednesday, an off-duty white officer working for a security firm shot dead 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. in what police have described as a firefight.

( Source : reuters )
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