FERGUSON, Missouri: Hundreds of protesters rallied in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday to mark a year since police killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown, whose death sparked unrest and a national debate about race relations in America. Led by Brown’s family, a crowd marched along one of the avenues hit by fierce rioting last November when a court decided not to indict the white officer who shot the teenager. Marchers shouted slogans such as “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “We do this for who? We do this for Mike Brown” during a daytime rally with a children’s marching band bringing up the rear of the parade.
But protesters grew more confrontational later, when around 200 people gathered outside the police headquarters chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, these killer cops have got to go!” Several protesters jumped over a barricade around the building and faced off with police officers, although the crowd eventually dispersed without violence. Demonstrators had earlier barbequed a pig – onto which they had placed a police hat – and tried to give its cooked head to officers.
The shooting of 18-year-old Ferguson local Brown on Aug 9, 2014 sparked violent unrest and prompted a broader conversation about race in America, particularly police treatment of African-Americans.At the earlier march, which ended at Brown’s Normandy High School, his father told reporters he was working hard at “keeping my son’s life still around” and doing “whatever I can do to empower us as a people”. Asked what has changed in America’s tortured race relations over the past year, he said: “Nothing, for me. Some families got justice through Michael Brown’s legacy, and that helped them. But I’m still trying to get through.”
Today, protesters were to observe silence for 4.5 minutes – reflecting the 4.5 hours Brown’s body lay face down in the street after the shooting before it was taken away. They will also stage a silent march to a church and hold a religious service. The riots that erupted in Ferguson spread to other US cities and energized debate on how white police in America treat blacks, especially young black men and particularly when it comes to the use of lethal force.
A string of US police killings of black suspects since the shooting has triggered an outpouring of anger at perceived police racism and prompted calls for change. In the latest such incident Friday, a Texas police officer fatally shot 19-year-old unarmed college football player Christian Taylor after he drove his vehicle through the front of a car dealership. “As officers confronted the suspect, there was an altercation during which at least one officer discharged his weapon,” the Arlington, Texas police department said in a statement. – AFP