Hundreds protest Missouri police shooting

A Decatur rally organized via social media sites draws a large crowd protesting a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Hundreds showed up at a Decatur rally Aug. 14 protesting the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., by police.

People held signs that read “Don’t shoot,” “Veterans 4 Justice,” and “Justice for Mike Brown,” referring to the man who was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street, according to the Associated Press.

Ferguson police said one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car.

A Decatur rally organized via social media sites draws a large crowd protesting a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. Photos by Andrew Cauthen
A Decatur rally organized via social media sites draws a large crowd protesting a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Michael Brown was shot multiple times.
Since the Aug. 9 shooting, there have been multiple protests in the St. Louis suburb—some of which have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs from police armed with military-style equipment.

The Decatur protest was organized via social media by college student Kelene Lee of Crabapple.

“I was on Twitter a lot following what was happening in Ferguson and I saw…[an activist who] called people to just get together and try to channel our anger into some kind of action,” Lee said.

“I felt inspired.”

Lee said she hopes the rally will inspire the participants to get connected with their communities.

“So many people spoke today because people are angry, and people want to let out their rage,” Lee said. “When you add anger and focus, you get momentum. That’s what I hope is going to happen.
“Not only are we here to mourn Michael Brown and all other victims of police brutality, we have thought of many other ideas to take action,” Lee said. “That is what I hope for.”

One of the impromptu speakers was Nathan Knight, president of the DeKalb Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

“I’m here today because I’ve been at this same position over 65 or 70 times in my life,” Knight said. “Change doesn’t come from group action like this. Change comes because you go into your community, and you fight for the right to vote, you fight for other people’s rights and you vote.

You get out and you select people to make a difference in your community.”

Knight said he saw communities go up in flames in the 1960s.

“We saw the same thing in the ‘70s,” he said. “When Rodney King got beat down in California, we had all of this all over again. But the change that came out of that, that lived and lives today are the men and women that sought after political office, and they decided that they wanted to make a difference.”

A Decatur rally organized via social media sites draws a large crowd protesting a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. Photos by Andrew Cauthen
A Decatur rally organized via social media sites draws a large crowd protesting a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Cedric Alexander, DeKalb County’s deputy chief operating officer of public safety, went to Ferguson Aug. 16.

While there, he planned to “meet with the local police chiefs and start having dialog with them around how they can better improve relationships with their community so that they…hopefully, avoid some of the missteps that they experienced over the last week.”

Alexander said he would “look at the mistakes that had been made and what could have been done a whole lot better.

“The footage that we’ve all seen across the country is going to become a learning tool for law enforcement across the country that in certain situations you don’t have to make that strong of a presence,” he said. “We’re going to learn better ways in which we manage crowds better that are protesting peacefully.”

Staff writer Carla Parker contributed to this story.

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