ST. LOUIS - Thousands of people gathered Saturday for a second day of organized rallies and marches protesting Michael Brown s death and other fatal police shootings.
Several dozen protesters in St. Louis chanted on the sidewalk as Cardinals baseball team was hosting the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the National League Championship Series.
A diverse crowd joined forces as part of a national campaign called Ferguson October. Vietnam-era peace activists, New York City seminarians and hundreds of fast-food workers bused in from other cities marched alongside local residents.
Four days of events are planned. They started Friday with a march outside the St. Louis County prosecutor s office in Clayton and renewed calls for prosecutor Bob McCulloch to charge Darren Wilson, a white officer, in the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Wilson remains free and on administrative leave while a St. Louis County grand jury weighs whether Wilson should face criminal charges.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation of Brown s shooting which led to a nationwide dialogue about interactions between minorities and police.
We still are knee deep in this situation, said Kareem Jackson, a St. Louis rap artist and community organizer. We have not packed up our bags, we have not gone home.
On Saturday evening, a smaller group of demonstrators joined Brown s mother at a prayer vigil and protest outside the Ferguson apartment complex where her son was shot and killed two months ago. The group then marched to the Ferguson police department.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the city had enlisted extra officers and was prepared for trouble, though he hoped for the best.
The crowd Saturday was significantly larger than the ones seen at Friday s protests. While the main focus of the march was on recent police shootings, participants also embraced such causes as gay rights and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Police reported no arrests or violence Saturday afternoon.
I have two sons and a daughter. I want a world for them where the people who are supposed to be community helpers are actually helping, where they can trust those people to protect and serve rather than control and repress, said Ashlee Wiest-Laird, 48, a Baptist pastor from Boston.
The situation in Missouri especially resonated with Wiest-Laird. She s white and her adopted sons, ages 14 and 11, are black.
What I see happening here is a moment in time. There s something bigger here, she said.
Tensions have simmered since Brown s death. Residents were upset about the way Brown s body lay in the street for more than four hours while police investigated the shooting. Many insist Brown was trying to surrender, with his hands up. Residents also complained about the military-style police response to the several days of riots and protests that erupted immediately after Brown s shooting in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb where just three blacks serve on a 53-officer force.
Organizers said beforehand that they expected as many as 6,000 to 10,000 participants for the weekend s events. Police were not able to provide a crowd estimate Saturday, but organizers and participants suggested the march s size may have approached as many as 3,000.
Since Brown s death, three other fatal police shootings of black males have occurred in the St. Louis area. The most recent happened Wednesday night on St. Louis south side when police say an off-duty city officer working for a private neighbourhood security patrol shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit D. Myers.
The white officer, whose name hasn t been released, fired 17 rounds after police say Myers opened fire. Myers parents say he was unarmed.
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