Protesters march in the streets of Clayton, Mo. on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 near the St. Louis County Courthouse during a protest against the Aug. 9, 2014 police shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Protesters want prosecutors to file criminal charges against the white police officer who fatally shot Brown. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A cold, steady rain dampened the start of widespread weekend protests over the two-month-old death of Michael Brown and other fatal police shootings in the St. Louis area and elsewhere that demonstrators say are racially motivated.
Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October events expected 6,000 participants from the local area and across the country, but the initial protest Friday outside the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office in Clayton didn’t draw nearly that amount.
Protesters huddled beneath umbrellas, raincoats and ponchos as they renewed their call for county prosecutor Bob McCulloch to charge Darren Wilson, a White Ferguson officer, in the Aug. 9 death of the unarmed Brown, who was Black. A grand jury is reviewing the case, and the U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown’s death and a broader inquiry into the Ferguson police force.
Protesters march in the streets of Clayton, Mo., near the St. Louis County Courthouse, protesting the police shooting of Michael Brown, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Protesters want prosecutors to file criminal charges against the white municipal police officer who fatally shot the unarmed Brown. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
“We are here to demand the justice that our people have died for,” chanted protest organizer Montague Simmons of the local group Organization for Black Struggle. “We are here to bring peace, to bring restoration, to lift our banners in the name of those who’ve been sacrificed.”
Police in Clayton reported no arrests, and officers escorted the several hundred demonstrators through the suburb’s downtown as they marched past high-end restaurants, jewelry stores, banks and law offices.
Still, tensions remained high in the wake of another Black 18-year-old’s shooting death by a White police officer Wednesday night in St. Louis. Police say Vonderrit D. Myers shot at the St. Louis officer, who was in uniform but working off-duty for a private neighborhood security patrol. Myers’ parents say he was unarmed.
The officer’s name hasn’t been released.
Protesters carry signs as they march in the streets of Clayton, Mo. on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 near the St. Louis County Courthouse during a protest against the Aug. 9, 2014 police shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Protesters want prosecutors to file criminal charges against the white police officer who fatally shot Brown. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
“It’s important for this country to stand with this community,” said protester Ellen Davidson of New York City, who was making her second trip to the St. Louis area since Brown’s death. “This community is under siege. … The eyes of the world are watching.”
Additional demonstrations were planned later Friday in Ferguson as well as in the St. Louis neighborhood where Myers was killed.
On Saturday, the protests shift to downtown St. Louis, hours before the Cardinals host the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the National League Championship Series. And on Monday, a series of planned — but unannounced — acts of civil disobedience are to take place throughout the St. Louis region.
“I’m not planning to get arrested,” said Davidson, who was meeting up with other protesters from Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Tennessee. “But I do plan to do what I believe are in my rights as a protester. If I get arrested, that’s on the people who arrest me.”
Brown’s parents, the local chapter of the NAACP and other organizations called for peaceful protests ahead of the demonstrations.
St. Louis police arrested eight people Thursday as hundreds gathered to protest Myers’ death. At one point officers used pepper spray to force protesters back. A police spokeswoman said one officer was struck in the arm after someone threw a brick, and several cars were damaged.
Black leaders in St. Louis want the Justice Department to investigate Myers’ shooting as well. Preliminary autopsy results show a shot to the head killed Myers.
Police said the officer fired 17 rounds after Myers shot at him. They said Myers fired three shots before his gun jammed. The officer wasn’t injured.
Online court documents show that Myers was free on bond when he was killed. He had been charged with the unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor resisting arrest in June.
Associated Press journalists Jim Salter and Jeff Roberson in St. Louis contributed to this report.