About 2,500 people, traveling from all over the nation, gathered on the grounds of the St. Louis Gateway Arch in solidarity Saturday, October 11th during a weekend fight against police brutality and inequality. By the time the march reached Keiner Plaza, the peaceful assembly had grown to a racially mixed 3,000.
Photo Credit: Koran Addo, St. Louis Post Dispatch
The day started off around 10 a.m. as everyone converged on the downtown area. Many gathered their loved ones and respected peers to march alongside strangers of all ethnicities, backgrounds and area codes. The euphoria from the fellowship was mesmerizing and a sense of purpose was felt with every footstep.
Mid-day speakers gathered on the stage calling for an end to the the rampant injustice, mass incarceration and police killings happening in the "Land of the Free".
They demanded police reform and the indictment of officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown two months prior.
Some of the organizations in attendance:
Organization for Black Struggle
Black Lives Matter (BLM)
Veterans For Peace
Asian Americans Against Police Brutality
Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago]
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)
Forward Through Ferguson
Hands Up United
Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE)
Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)
The next evening, the show of force filled the Chaiffetz Arena where a mass interfaith meeting was held.
Inside the monumental event, members of all religions, races and political agendas were given the opportunity to address the people to offer encouragement and invaluable wisdom. Led by philosopher and activist, Dr. Cornel West, speakers like Rabbi Susan Talve, Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, and Imam Rauf Mahammed gave heartfelt guidance to the people of St. Louis and around the world, who were at the point of desperation, as their voices were not heard. As the program continued many in the crowd did not feel represented by the line of elder leadership that were speaking on their behalf. Many booed and expressed their discern with the unfamiliar faces and felt that voices on the front line should also be heard.
However, one woman brought the crowd to their feet as she spoke from the heart AND the front line. Pastor Renita Marie Lamkin, from St. Charles, Missouri, gave an inspiring, no-holds-barred speech urging clergy to get from behind the pulpit and into the streets. Pastor Lamkin had been on the front line in Ferguson dodging tear gas canisters and rubber bullets with the rest of the community. She was shot in the stomach one night ending with a deep bruise that activist Tef Poe shared on social media.
The night ended with more protests, this time on the South Side after protesters marched from the convenience store and nearby "magical bush" where Vonderitt Meyer's was shot by police to the entrance of the Quik Trip on Vandeventer. Protesters formed a line of protection at the door of the building so that agitators would not disrupt their demonstration, however the police were not willing to take the chance and when protesters refused to disperse, they were met with the discharge of chemical weapons. People who had traveled from all over the country got a first-hand glimpse of the unrest St. Louis encountered since protests began in Ferguson.