March, civil disobedience planned next month in Ferguson

Jul 27, 2015, 1:42 PM
Volunteers help to cleanup trash behind a business Monday, July 27, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Hundreds...
Volunteers help to cleanup trash behind a business Monday, July 27, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Hundreds of volunteers converged Monday morning on West Florissant Avenue for a litter-pickup and weeding effort spearheaded by a local radio station ahead of the Aug. 9 one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death. It's one of the areas hardest hit by last year's unrest in Ferguson that followed the police shooting death of Brown. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A silent march and a day of civil disobedience are among the events being planned for next month in Ferguson to mark the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer, an event that galvanized the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Organizers are calling it the “Ferguson Uprising Commemoration Weekend.” Plans announced Monday include a silent march starting at 11 a.m. Aug. 9 from Canfield Drive, where Michael Brown was killed, to Greater St. Mark Family Church.

The agenda from the Ferguson Action Council includes an art event, rap and rock concerts. It calls for Aug. 10 to be a “Day of Civil Disobedience and National Call to Action.” Messages seeking clarification about what sort of civil disobedience is planned were not returned.

The Ferguson Action Council brings together several groups active in protests — the Don’t Shoot Coalition, Hands Up United, the Organization for Black Struggle and others.

“The racial disparities in police shootings have caused our community to take a stand for black lives,” Kayla Reed of Organization for Black Struggle said in a statement. “One year later we continue to grow and organize to transform a system that has for too long oppressed people of color.”

Brown, who was black and unarmed, was killed during a confrontation with Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. Though some witnesses claimed that Brown had his hands up in surrender, both a St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice cleared Wilson of wrongdoing. He resigned from the police force in November.

A separate Justice Department investigation was critical of Ferguson’s policing and municipal court practices. The police chief, city manager and municipal judge in the St. Louis suburb resigned within days of the DOJ report.

On Monday, one of the areas hardest hit by the unrest got some sprucing ahead of the anniversary. Hundreds of volunteers converged to pick up litter and rip out weeds along a roughly three-mile West Florissant Avenue, including areas in front of stores still boarded up months after damage from looting and fires. The effort was conceived by KMOX radio personality Charlie Brennan.

“This brings people over here who are thinking Ferguson is a crime-ridden, messed-up hellhole,” said Roy Gillespie, from St. Louis city’s Central West End, who helped organize Monday’s cleanup he insisted was more about fostering regional unity that actually ridding the place of rubbish.

Gillespie had some of his proof across the street. Joe Faber — a 54-year-old white man from Webster Groves, helped Tony Rice, who is black, clear a sidewalk stretch and a fenced-in area of litter. The two men hadn’t met previously, and Faber already considered him “my new friend,” offering to cool him with a dousing from his water bottle.

“It’s pretty cool to see all different types of people here — young, old, black, white, yellow,” Faber said. “Working side by side, it’s fun. It’s the human spirit.”

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March, civil disobedience planned next month in Ferguson