The mother of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose death sparked weeks of protests in Missouri, led hundreds of people at the “Ferguson October” demonstrations this weekend, marching down the streets of St Louis in protest against police violence before taking stand outside the force's headquarters.
Lesley McSpadden walked at the front of Saturday’s evening rally, held in the St Louis suburb, where more than 1,000 people eventually gathered in protest against the recent police shootings.
Ms McSpadden, whose 18-year-old son was shot and killed by police while he was unarmed on 9 August, has rarely participated in protests, but she took a prominent place in Saturday's events, which were part of a weekend of planned demonstrations.
She led a prayer near the Canfield Green apartments where police shot her son, and eventually left the group to join demonstrators outside Ferguson’s police headquarters, where more peaceful protests saw people sat on the ground in silence.
Later on, the protesters began shouting insults at a line of police in helmets and shields.
The protests come days after an off-duty police officer shot and killed black teenager Vonderrick Myers, whom protesters claim was shot 17 times and was holding a sandwich, not a gun. Police have said they recovered a weapon from the scene.
In an open letter written by demonstrators calling for people to support the four-day movement , the group claimed that that “here in Ferguson, our community has come to know terror on American soil”.
“Michael Brown’s bloodied, lifeless body, left to lay in the street for more than four hours, a glaring reminder of the value of black life.
“Peaceful protesters, attacked by waves of gas and bullets meant only for war. Daily violent reminders that our black skin renders us unsafe in our own community. No human, no American citizen, no child could look upon this scene and not unequivocally know: enough is enough,” the group wrote in the St Louis American.
The “Ferguson October” protests are into the third of four planned days of demonstrations, where on Sunday organisers are scheduled to train protesters in non-violent civil disobedience tactics.
“We are still knee-deep in this situation,” Kareem Jackson, a St Louis rap artist and community organiser said. “We have not packed our bags, we have not gone home. This is a fly-by-night moment. This is not a made-for-TV revolution. This is real people standing up to a real problem and saying, ‘We ain’t taking it no more.”
On Monday a “direct action” planned by local and visiting clergy members will take place in Ferguson, but details of the action will not be released by protest leaders until shortly ahead of time, to avoid alerting police.
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