A 19-year-old student photographed standing between police and protesters in Ferguson has said she wanted to “protect” the officers.
Lexi Kozhevsky took to the streets overnight as demonstrations continued to mark the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.
She was seen standing alone in front of dozens of police wearing body armour, facing protesters.
Lynden Steele, the St Louis Post-Dispatch’s director of photography, quoted her as saying: “I would rather get hit by something than let it hit them.”
A small minority of protesters were seen hurling missiles including frozen bottles of water at police, who called the crowd “unruly”.
“Safety, our top priority, is now compromised,” a spokesperson for the St Louis County Police Department wrote on Twitter.
“This is no longer a peaceful protest. Participants are now unlawfully assembled.”
In a Snapchat video posted online, Ms Kozhevsky said she wanted to protect the officers.
She said: “Look guys, discrimination is a thing and I get it but we need to stay with the people who protect us and that’s what I’m doing. I want to protect my police.”
The teenager, who studies nursing at St Louis University, told The Blaze that she believes “not all cops are bad” and that violent protests were not the way forward.
Ms Kozhevsky said officers questioned her after she moved in front of them but let her stay after she said she was aware of the possible danger.
“I was prepared for the worst,” she added.
“It was scary. People were looking at me and making gestures. It was unnerving, to say the least. But sometimes you just have to stand your ground.”
A photo of her went viral on Twitter, provoking strong responses from people following the events in Ferguson.
Ferguson Anniversary Protests
Ferguson Anniversary Protests
1/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
Police take a mug shot of a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown.
2/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
St Louis County police officers arrest an anti-police demonstrator in Ferguson, Missouri August 11, 2015
3/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
Protesters march in the rain, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Sunday marks one year since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
4/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
Demonstrators, marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, march along West Florrisant Street in a driving rain on August 9, 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. There are reports that two people were shot when gun fire broke out during protests later in the evening. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9, 2014. His death sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and drew nationwide focus on police treatment of black offenders.
5/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
A St. Louis County police officers respond in an MRAD vehicle after shots were fired during a protest march on August 9, 2015 on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri. Over 50 shots were reportedly exchanged on the day marking the one year anniversary of the death of an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a white police officer, throwing America's troubled race relations into harsh relief.
6/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
Protesters yell as police form a line across West Florissant Ave., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo., before shots were fired near the protest. The one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson began with a march in his honor and ended with a protest that was interrupted by gunfire.
7/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
Protesters fall to the ground to take cover after shots were fired in a police-officer involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri August 9, 2015. Two people were shot in the midst of a late-night confrontation between riot police and protesters, after a day of peaceful events commemorating the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white officer one year ago.
8/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
A white woman holds a black woman as they pray during a rain storm at the site of last year's riots on the one year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 9, 2015. Hundreds of people marched, prayed and observed a moment of silence in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday, a year to the day after a white police officer shot the unarmed black teenager to death, igniting months of protests and a national debate on race and justice.
9/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
A woman reacts after shots were fired in a police-officer involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri August 9, 2015. Two people were shot in the midst of a late-night confrontation between riot police and protesters, after a day of peaceful events commemorating the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white officer one year ago.
10/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
Police take cover as a barrage of gunfire erupts along West Florrisant Street during a demonstration to mark the 1-year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9, 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9, 2014. His death sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and drew nationwide focus on police treatment of black offenders.
11/11 Ferguson Anniversary Protests
Amarion Allen, 11-years-old stands in front of a police line shortly before shots were fired in a police-officer involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri August 9, 2015. Two people were shot in the midst of a late-night confrontation between riot police and protesters, after a day of peaceful events commemorating the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white officer one year ago.
Some contrasted her treatment to that of a black girl who was photographed being arrested. Online commentators claimed she was 12 but St Louis police later confirmed she was 18 after viewing her identification card.
“Lexi's allowed to occupy the street because of whiteness,” one person claimed.
“Other protesters have been forcibly removed from such spaces in Ferguson.”
Many people were critical of Ms Kozhevsky, saying her actions were unnecessary to protect “officers in full riot gear”.
But others praised her actions and told her to “stay strong” in the face of online abuse.
“I'm in awe at her courage,” one supporter wrote on Twitter, while others urged critics to “cut her some slack” and focus on bigger issues.
At least 23 people were arrested during Monday night’s protests, which saw officers in riot gear force protesters off the streets with shields and use pepper spray.
A state of emergency was declared by authorities in Ferguson after several police officers shot a man in what they said was an exchange of gunfire on Sunday night. He is in a critical condition.
The latest unrest comes a year after Mr Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead in the St Louis suburb by a white officer, sparking angry protests that ignited anger over police treatment of ethnic minorities throughout the US.Reuse content