Ferguson and St. Louis—Day After Grand Jury Announcement: People Continue Determined Protests in the Streets

by Larry Everest | November 26, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


November 25—The shocks from the grand jury decision to let Michael Brown's murderer Darren Wilson walk free continued to spark outrage and protest in the Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area.

Shutting down Highway 44—Downtown St. Louis. Around 2 in the afternoon, 300-400 people marched up an exit ramp onto the elevated lanes of Interstate 44 in the heart of downtown St. Louis. Police closed both lanes of the freeway—and it stayed shut until people marched down 40 minutes later. People then briefly closed traffic on the Martin Luther King Bridge to East St. Louis.

Protestors Shut Down I-44 in both directions. St. Louis, MO. 11/24. Photo: AP

The protest had started around noon when some 500-600 people gathered in Kiener Plaza in the heart of downtown St. Louis for a defiant rally and march called by FergusonAction.com—#shutitdown. The crowd was diverse but mostly young, with a significant number of oppressed youth. There were students from U. Missouri at Columbia, Webster, St. Louis University, Washington University, including its Brown School of Social Work, and other campuses. There were clergy, and middle class activists. We met people from Arkansas, Michigan, and Chicago who had traveled to Ferguson-St. Louis to protest the grand jury decision.

The atmosphere was warm—and angry. The focus was on the injustice of the murder of Mike Brown and the non-indictment of the killer cop, not the so-called bad protesters and "looters" that the bourgeois media has been focusing on nonstop. We got out over 500 copies of Carl Dix's new statement: "Wilson Has Walked: AMERIKKKA MUST COME TO A HALT! THERE IS RIGHTEOUS RESISTANCE AND YOU MUST BE PART OF IT!!!" to a receptive audience. There was a broad sense that the oppression of Black people goes very deep, and requires radical systemic change of some form. "Black Friday Weekend—Boycott & Protest!" was being widely promoted. No shopping—protest!

St. Louis, MO. 11/24. Photo: AP

At a rally, people marched to the main federal courthouse, pushing through one police barricade to confront the cops guarding the building. Fake blood was poured in the street. People chalked, "Why is blood running in our streets?" People chanted, "I am Mike Brown, We Are Mike Brown! Black Lives Matter! You Can't Stop the Revolution!"

People then marched to the Interstate.

7 am—Clayton. Members of the clergy and others gathered at the office of the county prosecutor—which had been closed down for the day—to protest the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson. Around 7:30 am, the crowd stayed silent for 4.5 minutes—a minute for every hour Michael Brown lay dead in the street. Then 150-200 people marched through the downtown area. At one point, people lay down in the street.

Ferguson, Tuesday night. We drove over to the intersection of Chambers and West Florissant at around 9:15 pm. West Florissant is the street leading to the Canfield Apartments, where Mike Brown lived and was murdered, and the scene of sharp resistance on the night of the grand jury announcement—and for the past 100 plus days. Tonight, the state's new policing protocols were in effect, and you couldn't even turn and drive south down Florissant—it was barricaded by police and cop cars, and there were more cops and National Guard Humvees on the other side of the street. This is horrible for residents living along Florissant, like those in the Canfield Apartments, because it means they're practically penned into the apartment complex, and with many of the stores shut down, it's hard to get food.

But there was a group of about 60 people, mostly Black youths, who had gathered on the north side of Chambers, across from the pig barricade. People were yelling at the cops—their anger had not subsided. Then, five minutes after we got there, I don't know what happened—someone might have thrown a water bottle into the street—but the police immediately got on their loudspeaker and declared people just standing on the corner an "illegal assembly" and ordered them to disperse immediately. Everyone knew the tear gas could follow without warning, so most started moving away. Then the pigs charged to the median. Before long, most had left—but it was an illustration of the state's "more aggressive" policing—and how people's basic rights are being torn to shreds. "Fuck the police, fuck the police!" That's what a lot of the youths were yelling.

Then we drove further down Chambers to South Florissant where the police station is located. This time the pig sty was guarded by National Guard in combat fatigues, and there were a lot more police in the street. Still, there was a crowd of 250, maybe 300, in front of the police station. All of a sudden, a march took off back up the street toward Chambers. Suddenly a group turned a sharp right down Church and headed to City Hall. Before we got there, everyone started rushing back past us. Apparently, a police car had been turned over and set on fire. About five minutes later, police cars started screaming by—going from the station to City Hall—and then those streets were all blocked off and some tear gas was being fired. But still, there were people rushing forward, fading back, eluding the police, then making a resistance move back at them—back and forth—a kind of guerrilla protest and resistance. (And this includes cars, too—people jumping in their cars, heading away from the state, regrouping, coming back—using cars as part of the protests, including as mobile stages.) People were finding ways to express their rage and outrage in the face of a big, aggressive police/National Guard presence.

Again, all the bullshit from the officials—from mayors to governors to the president himself—about protecting people's rights to express themselves and protest had gone up in tear gas smoke. They murder people, and then don't even allow them to express their totally justified outrage.

But people were finding a way in the face of all this to resist the system that murdered Mike Brown and so many other youth, and righteously fight back. All this within little more than an hour tonight!

The back-and-forth between the people and the state went on well past midnight. The St. Louis Post Dispatch, reporting at 12:40 am Wednesday, said that the police were still trying to disperse a crowd of up to 500 people. There were also protests in the Shaw District of St. Louis, where VonDerrit Myers Jr. was murdered by a cop in October, as well as in Richmond Heights (near Clayton). Sixty-eight people were arrested Tuesday night, 45 in Ferguson. According to the Post Dispatch state officials tripled the National Guard deployment to 2,000, saying the "intensity of the unrest" on Monday night "had gone far beyond what had been anticipated."

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