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At Ferguson march, call for Labor Day highway protest

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 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. 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 41/2 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 41/2 minutes to symbolize those 41/2 hours that 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."

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 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 NAACP, 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.

The march convened at the site where 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.

Activist Anthony Shahid speaks at a rally outside the Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday. The march and rally over the shooting of Michael Brown drew more than 1,000 people.

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Activist Anthony Shahid speaks at a rally outside the Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday. The march and rally over the shooting of Michael Brown drew more than 1,000 people.

At Ferguson march, call for Labor Day highway protest 08/31/14 [Last modified: Saturday, August 30, 2014 11:19pm]

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