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Protesters gather in Delmar Loop, Creve Coeur on Friday to condemn racial injustice

Protesters gather in Delmar Loop, Creve Coeur on Friday to condemn racial injustice

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Protesters gathered in  University City and Creve Coeur Friday as marches against racial injustice continued in the St. Louis area.

The marches have followed the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis.

About 500 protesters met in the parking lot of the now-closed Cicero’s in the Delmar Loop to condemn racial injustice and police brutality.

Under a blazing sun, protesters flooded Delmar Boulevard, passing diners at the historic Blueberry Hill restaurant and workers at local businesses until they reached DeBaliviere Avenue.

Protesters noted the significance of their route down Delmar, which Jennings resident Ohun Ashe, 30, referred to as “the people’s tour of the Delmar Divide, where redlining is.”

Cori Bush, who is running for the U.S. House in Missouri’s 1st District, said, “We have one side of Delmar that’s a certain way, that’s marginalized, that’s oppressed. And we have another side that lives totally different. There is no peace there.”

Young Voices for Action founder Farrakhan Shegog, 28, of University City, also noted the significance of the trolley tracks on which protesters marched. The $51 million trolley project operated for 13 months before shutting down in December.

“This money could have been spent on somebody’s food,” Shegog said. “This money could’ve been able to provide shelter for our homeless brothers and sisters. This money could’ve been used to give somebody some healthcare.”

When the protesters, still some 200 strong, reached Forest Park Parkway and DeBaliviere Avenue, they lined the intersection and blocked traffic. Protesters filed between cars, calling on drivers to exit their vehicles and join them.

Delmar Loop Protest

Chad Grimm, 28, of Edwardsville, marches with a baby in the Delmar Loop Friday, June 12, 2020. 

“There’s a bigger purpose to shutting down the streets,” said Dee Gipson, 14, of The Ville neighborhood. “We got all their attention,” he said, gesturing to cars waiting at the intersection. “We even got the attention of helicopters,” pointing to two helicopters hovering overhead.

Ashe said the movement extends beyond police brutality. “Attacking black folks is leaving us under-resourced, it is leaving us without adequate education, it is leaving us in these systems that don’t allow us to live and to flourish just as anybody does in this community,” she said.

Creve Coeur

Earlier Friday, about 100 people gathered in Creve Coeur to march along Lindbergh Boulevard.

Organizers cited income inequality and a lack of diversity in the area as the primary reason they chose to hold the protest in Creve Coeur.

“If you bring it to their back yard, they can’t ignore it,” said Lauryn Donovan, one of the organizers of the march. Donovan said growing up as a black woman in a nearby predominantly white area of St. Louis County helped her realize people will often ignore what’s not directly in front of them.

“If our history classes weren’t so whitewashed,” Donovan said, “I feel there would be more understanding.”

“I don’t even know how to express how tired of being tired black people are,” said Victoria Neal, of Olivette, another organizer of the march.

Before the march began, siblings Morgan Taylor, 17, and Braylon Taylor, 15, of Olivette, performed the song “Glory” from the 2014 movie “Selma.” The song describes the civil rights movement and various struggles black Americans have endured through the years.

Joseph Pagan, of Lake St. Louis , attended the protest with his wife and five kids. “If we aren’t willing to stand up and point out what’s wrong, we’ll feel it when it affects our families.”

Colter Peterson and Chris Kohley of the Post-Dispatch contributed.

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