FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Clergy members led several hundred people on a march Monday, using a bullhorn to read the names of people killed by police nationwide, in the Missouri city where protesters have been unremitting since unarmed 18-year-old was fatally shot by a police officer.
Protesters marched from a church to police headquarters in Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was fatally shot in August. Marchers, who were met by about 40 officers in riot gear, began chanting, “We Shall Overcome.”
The march marked the third straight day of organized rallies in Ferguson. Protests have been common since Brown, who was black, was killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9. But tensions escalated last week when a white police officer in nearby St. Louis shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr., who police say shot at police before he was killed.
“My faith compels me to be here,” said Bishop Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. “I want to show solidarity, and call attention to the structural racism of St. Louis.”
Several clergy members approached individual Ferguson officers and asked them to “repent” for Brown’s killing and other acts of violence. Some officers engaged the protesters, while others ignored the efforts.
“My heart feels that this has been going on too long,” Ferguson officer Ray Nabzdyk told the clergy. “We all stand in fault because we didn’t address this.”
Organizers promised civil disobedience on Monday, but have declined to offer specifics. Earlier Monday, hundreds of people marched to Saint Louis University, though no arrests were made.
Events over the weekend were mostly peaceful, though officers arrested 17 protesters and used pepper spray to subdue some people Sunday in a St. Louis neighborhood where about 200 people gathered not far from where Myers was killed. The protesters, some wearing masks, marched toward a QuikTrip convenience store and tried to force open its doors, Police Chief Sam Dotson said.
The planned demonstrations began Friday afternoon with a march outside the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office, where protesters renewed calls for prosecutor Bob McCulloch to charge Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown. A grand jury is reviewing the case and the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation.
Since Brown’s death, three other fatal police shootings of black males have occurred in the St. Louis area. Myers died Wednesday after a confrontation with a white St. Louis officer, whose name has not been released. Police said the officer fired 17 rounds after Myers opened fire. Myers’ parents say he was unarmed, and many speakers at a weekend rally echoed those doubts and raised concerns about racial profiling.
On Saturday, demonstrators stood outside Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, where the Cardinals were playing the San Francisco Giants. Fans were unimpeded.
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