The city of Ferguson, Missouri, has become the symbol of two things over the last week: police brutality and racial inequality. The police shooting of yet another unarmed black teenager, Mike Brown, and the ensuing clampdown on both demonstrators and the press has caused alarm bells to ring across the country. On Thursday, thousands of people took to the streets to make this clear. Across the U.S., protesters held a "National Moment Of Silence," remembering Mike Brown and other victims of police brutality — and calling for the excessive force to stop. And on Friday, Ferguson police finally named the officer in question.
Denver, New Orleans and New York were among 100 U.S. cities where protesters, using the hashtag #NMOS14, gathered to remember Mike Brown and call for an end to the police violence in Ferguson, where tear gas and stun grenades have virtually turned the town into a war zone. Some cities held candlelight vigils, others were filled with demonstrators marching down major roads. In all, the memory of past victims of police brutality beat a steady rhythm.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in Portland Thursday night, making their way along Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. According to The Oregonian, some protestors used chalk to write the names of people killed by Portland police on the pavement, while others traced body outlines. With megaphones, the crowd chanted: "No justice, no peace. No racist police."
New York City
New York's protest was undoubtedly the largest on Thursday night. Thousands of protesters marched through the city, ending up in what has been described as a "sit-in" in Times Square. "Hands Up, Don't Shoot," the group chanted, according to the Daily Mail. Though the demonstration was mostly peaceful, several people were arrested.
Malcolm X Park in Washington, D.C., was the gathering place for hundreds of people Thursday night. The vigil was peaceful, with roughly 500 protestors marching through the streets, holding signs saying "Hands up, Don't shoot."
Kansas City, Missouri
Several hundred met in Mill Creek Park in Kansas City as well, not only to remember Mike Brown but also to demand an end to the police violence in Ferguson. "The militarization of the police has led to numerous deaths and injuries," said the protest organizer, Sarah Cole. "And it is time that we stand up against these very policies that have dire consequences within our communities."
In Massachusetts, hundreds of protesters gathered on Boston Common, raising placards that read: “Stop the Brutality, ” “No Justice No Peace” and, heartbreakingly, “We Are Human Too.” According to the Boston Globe, one speaker said via the megaphone: “Don’t come at me today telling that this is not about race. That’s . . . exactly what it’s about!”
The scene was more solemn in Philadelphia, where hundreds showed up in Love Park to listen to the names of people who've died at the hands of the police. According to CBS Philly, "the crowd of stood in unison with their hands in the air, as they observed a moment of silence."
Protesters gathered in Daley Plaza at roughly 6 p.m. Thursday to hold their moment of silence for Mike Brown. As one organizer, Georgette Kirkendall, said in a press release: "The silent vigil is an expression of love, mourning, and solidarity, but but once those quiet those quiet minutes have passed, we can't remain silent. As a community, we have to get loud, and I am ready to yell."
In Denver, several hundred people came together in Civic Center Park on Thursday night, standing in silence to remember all the victims of police brutality. According to the Denver Post, the evening then turned spiritual, with members of the clergy giving speeches and hymns being sung.
In Southern L.A., hundreds of people showed up in Leimert Park for NMOS14. California has, of course, recently dealt with its own bout of publicized police violence, so tensions were particularly high. According to KTLA5, the demonstrators chanted: “We refuse to live this way.”
It seems like the whole nation agrees.