FERGUSON • For several hours Saturday, hundreds of people demanding justice in the shooting of Michael Brown stood in front of the Ferguson Police Department with yellow police tape separating them from several dozen police officers.
The protesters were part of a march that started in the morning along West Florissant Avenue, the site of multiple protests and unrest over the past three weeks following the fatal shooting of Brown, 18, by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.
Protesters clogged South Florissant Road in front of the police department as they demanded justice for Brown’s death, with some shouting at police, demanding Wilson’s arrest.
The crowd grew rapidly beginning about 1 p.m. after earlier marching from the site of Brown’s shooting to a city park where Brown’s family spoke.
The march was billed as a protest “against police killings, brutality, profiling and legal cover-ups.” Organizers included representatives from the Nation of Islam, the St. Louis Chapter of the NAACP and Better Family Life.
Many people carried signs saying “end racial profiling” and shouted “justice for Michael Brown.”
It was a diverse crowd, and included children and adults, with some pushing strollers along the march route. Some wore T-shirts showing a person with hands up and the words “Don’t Shoot.”
Ian Buchanan, 44, a former principal in the St. Louis and Normandy school districts, drove to Ferguson from his home in Memphis, Tenn., to attend Saturday’s march.
“I came here because I want to be a part of the spirit of the movement,” he said.
He spent part of the day talking to his former students about how to voice their concerns about injustice. “The older generation usually wants to write off the younger generation, but to effect change, it comes from young people,” Buchanan said.
The marchers gathered at 10 a.m. on the parking lot of Red’s B-B-Q on West Florissant, not far from the place on Canfield Drive where Brown was fatally shot Aug. 9.
Stephanie Edwards, 56, of St. Ann, brought her two daughters and three granddaughters, ages 9, 7 and 6. Edwards, the mother of Brown’s stepfather, Lewis Head, wore a T-shirt with Brown’s image. Edwards said it was her first time participating in a march since Brown’s death. “We are tired of police brutality,” she said. “I came out for justice.”
Maxine Davis, 28, a Washington University student who is studying social work in a graduate program, graduated from Normandy High School in 2004.
Davis has participated in several protests and said she came Saturday to stand in solidarity with the Brown family. “We need people to have discussions with children about what systematic oppression is,” she said.
Capt. Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol said authorities had closed West Florissant Avenue between Canfield Drive and Ferguson Avenue for the march.
“Our strategy for today is to keep roads closed so people can have a peaceful march,” he said before the march got underway.
Ferguson police met with organizers over the last couple of days to form the traffic plans. The Missouri Highway Patrol and St. Louis County officers assisted Ferguson police with traffic control, Johnson said.
Around 11 a.m., the crowd marched down Canfield toward the shooting scene, where organizers spoke and ministers prayed as the crowd grew quiet. Residents in the Canfield Green apartments stood on balconies, looking down at those assembled, taking photos with their cellphones.
Later, as rain began, the marchers headed to the city’s Forestwood Park. Some broke out umbrellas, but others just trudged on in the hard rain.
At the park, Brown family members and organizers of the rally spoke. Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., repeated his view that Gov. Jay Nixon should remove St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch from the case and appoint a special prosecutor. “If we don’t get that done, I don’t want it to get bad,” Brown said. “And it’s already bad.”
One speaker urged protesters to engage in civil disobedience Monday afternoon and subsequent weeks by shutting down St. Louis-area highways and flashing their headlights.
Some in the crowd wanted to march to the Ferguson police station, as planned by some organizers, and so broke off to head there. A crowd grew at the police station on South Florissant Road about two miles from where the march had started. They soon filled the road, blocking traffic. Police officers lined up outside the building and used yellow tape to cordon off an area.
Facing the police, one protester held a sign that said: “Go kill ISIS and leave us alone.”
Just after 5 p.m., the crowd had shrunk to a few dozen people, including Ferguson Democratic Committeewoman Patricia Bynes.
Bynes spent the day taking down marchers’ names, phone numbers and ZIP codes so she and others can call and inform them about upcoming public meetings. “We need to get people to show up at community meetings,” she said. “This type of movement is only going to come from Ferguson and Ferguson residents.”
LEAFLETING IN KIRKWOOD TARGETS M
Meanwhile, about 40 people from the groups Black Lives Matter and Hands Up United went to the Kirkwood neighborhood where McCulloch lives to hand out fliers seeking his removal from the Brown case.
First they practiced their delivery on each other at a park before heading to knock on doors.
Some residents were receptive to the canvassers and engaged in conversation about the case. The canvassers knocked on the door of the home that neighbors confirmed was McCulloch’s, but no one answered and it was unclear whether anyone was home.
A leaflet accused McCulloch of having a conflict of interest and a “history of favoring police in incidents involving the killing of African-Americans.”
Prosecutors from McCulloch’s office are presenting evidence in the shooting to a St. Louis County grand jury. McCulloch has said the process could take into October.
Some critics have said McCulloch can’t be fair because his father, a city police officer, was killed in the line of duty by a black man in 1964. The prosecutor has denied he has a conflict and has said he will not recuse himself from this case.
McCulloch has said the death of his father has made him “a fierce advocate for the victims of violence” and noted he has prosecuted police officers in the past and won convictions.
The flier handed out Saturday asks people to call Nixon and request that he replace McCulloch with a special prosecutor.