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Michael Brown highway protest postponed, but at least one brief blockade forms anyway

FERGUSON • Leaders of the Michael Brown protests gathered Monday afternoon to cancel plans for blocking highways, but a few impromptu closings took place about three hours later.

A group of protesters entered the westbound lanes of Interstate 270 near West Florissant Avenue and blocked traffic. The Missouri Highway Patrol said the protesters left the roadway a short time later.

St. Louis police received numerous telephone reports of attempts to block traffic at three places on Interstate 70 in the city and three others at traffic-light intersections. But responding officers couldn’t find anything when they arrived, a spokeswoman said.

All of the reports took place about 4:30 p.m., which had been part of the original plan to close stretches of highway in the continuing protests over the fatal shooting of Brown, 18, by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9.

Shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, protest leaders gathered in front of the Ferguson police station and announced they were canceling plans for an action at the request of Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr.

“This is a postponement,” said Zaki Baruti, one of the protest coordinators. “Until our demands are met, it’s still on the table — some kind of highway action. When we’re ready, we’ll tell everyone about it.”

With Baruti were Brown Sr.; family lawyer Anthony Gray; and activist Anthony Shahid. Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson also attended and thanked Brown Sr. for persuading the protest leaders to call off the highway action.

Brown Sr. suggested that protesters honor his son instead with 4½ minutes of silence.

The original closing plan was for motorists to turn on their flashing lights, stop and block traffic for 4½ minutes. The duration was to symbolize the hours that some say Brown’s body lay in the street after he was fatally shot.

But authorities said protesters gathered along the shoulder of westbound I-270 with their hands up — a symbolic pose in protesting the death of Brown — then walked into the lanes, stopping traffic.

Baruti could not be reached after the brief shutdown.

The group’s demands include dismissing Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Brown, and removing St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch from the investigation.

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