Ferguson protests: Rapper Nelly appeals for crowd calm with rousing megaphone speech

The hip-hop star attempted where Obama had failed as he called for an end to unrest after the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown

The town of Ferguson has been the scene of riots, baying crowds and clouds of tear gas for days, as police in Missouri struggle to restore calm.

They are angry because of the shooting dead of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a law enforcement officer on 9 August.

There is an ongoing official FBI investigation into the killing, which many of the demonstrators believe to be completely unprovoked and a sign of existing racial inequality in the criminal justice system.

They are demonstrating for the officer that killed him, Darren Wilson, to be arrested and tried for murder.

President Obama has called for calm, insisting that he understands the "passions and anger" that have possessed the neighbourhood in recent days.

But his plea fell on deaf ears, and police – supported by the National Guard – arrested a further 31 people last night (18 August) as the protests once more erupted in violence.




So rapper Nelly, a St Louis native, thought he’d have a go at restoring order to the conflicted area. Armed with a #MichaelBrown T-shirt and a megaphone, he took to the streets to appeal to local residents and convince them that violence isn’t the way to approach the tragedy.

"We've got to understand that we have options and stop choosing the reaction option cause at the end of the day we gonna pay - our brothers are gonna be the ones in jail," he said.

The hip-hop star had come under heavy fire on social media over the past week, as critics accused him of being out of touch with the black American community and the situation in Ferguson by calling for calm.

Speaking to TMZ on Saturday, he said: "I understand the frustration, but we have to strategize[sic] before we overreact.

"We don't get no do-over on s**t like this, so we have to do it right the first time.

"Ain't nothing happen no different that hasn't been happening... At the end of the day, we should have waited to strategize first and take all the right steps to organize."

Other famous names who have spoken about the protest publicly include singer/songwriter John Legend and actress Shonda Williams, who passed comment on reports that members of the press were being moved on from areas of protest and threatened.

Mad Men actor Jon Hamm, who lived in neighbouring Normandy and regularly used to visit Ferguson to see his friends, said:  “It's rough; it's a bad situation all of the way around.

"When all of the facts come out, and all of the light is shone on all sides of it, hopefully justice will be carried out. But it's hard. It's really hard. St. Louis had a rough couple of decades now. It would be nice to turn it around a little bit.''