Rain dampens police shooting protests in Missouri
CLAYTON, Missouri (AP) — A cold, steady rain dampened the start of widespread weekend protests over the two-month-old death of Michael Brown and other fatal police shootings that demonstrators say are racially motivated.
Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October events expected 6,000 participants from across the country, but the initial protest Friday outside the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office in Clayton didn’t draw nearly that amount.
Protesters huddled beneath umbrellas, raincoats and ponchos as they renewed their call for county prosecutor Bob McCulloch to charge Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson officer, in the Aug. 9 death of the unarmed Brown, who was black. A grand jury is reviewing the case, and the U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown’s death and a broader inquiry into the Ferguson police force.
“We are here to demand the justice that our people have died for,” chanted protest organizer Montague Simmons of the local group Organization for Black Struggle. “We are here to bring peace, to bring restoration, to lift our banners in the name of those who’ve been sacrificed.”
Police in Clayton reported no arrests, and officers escorted the several hundred demonstrators as they marched.
Still, tensions remained high after another black 18-year-old’s shooting death by a white police officer Wednesday night in St. Louis. Police say Vonderrit D. Myers shot at the officer, who was in uniform but working off-duty for a private neighborhood security patrol. Myers’ parents say he was unarmed.
The officer’s name hasn’t been released.
“It’s important for this country to stand with this community,” said protester Ellen Davidson of New York City, who was making her second trip to the St. Louis area since Brown’s death. “This community is under siege. ... The eyes of the world are watching.”
On Saturday, the protests shift to downtown St. Louis. And on Monday, a series of planned — but unannounced — acts of civil disobedience are to take place throughout the St. Louis region.
Brown’s parents called for peaceful protests ahead of the demonstrations.
Black leaders in St. Louis want the Justice Department to investigate Myers’ shooting as well. Preliminary autopsy results show a shot to the head killed him.
Police said the officer fired 17 rounds after Myers shot at him. They said Myers fired three shots before his gun jammed. The officer wasn’t injured.
Online court documents show that Myers was free on bond when he was killed. He had been charged with the unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor resisting arrest in June.
Associated Press journalists Jim Salter and Jeff Roberson in St. Louis contributed to this report.