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US Around St. Louis, Black Live Matters resonating in ways it didn’t after Ferguson

04:55  16 june  2020
04:55  16 june  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Black Lives Matter goes on, decentralised and non-hierarchical with decisions in the hands of local chapters – listed on its website as Atlanta “To have done what was done took a toll on all of us and after watching and being around people and being one of the people who struggled to just make

He says that after the incident, he was visited by a police officer, who recognised him as the owner of the house. The apology from Alexander came Welcome to today’s live coverage of US politics and Black Lives Matter protests. Here are some of the key points from yesterday and overnight, and what

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He says that after the incident, he was visited by a police officer, who recognised him as the owner of the house. The apology from Alexander came Welcome to today’s live coverage of US politics and Black Lives Matter protests. Here are some of the key points from yesterday and overnight, and what

It was a hot day in St Louis county near Ferguson , Missouri in September 2014, and I’d spent the majority of the afternoon at a sit-in on the At 9am, 20 of us had filed in and plopped down in four rows in the centre of the station. The police began to gather around us as hundreds of our fellow protesters

WASHINGTON, Mo. —After Michael Brown's 2014 death, residents in the suburbs and small towns outside of St. Louis watched the unrest unfold on television screens from the comfort of their living rooms. Just miles away, historic protests were calling for the prosecution of a police officer who had fatally shot the unarmed black teen, a radical notion for many here — made more extreme by the chants of "Black lives matter."

Six years later, their own suburban streets have been filled with hundreds of protesters. Residents here are picking up their own signs that read “I can’t breathe,” among the final words of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer held him down with a knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Now, their own chants against “racist police” no longer seem so radical.  

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Before midnight, St . Louis County police officers reported heavy automatic gunfire in the area where some of the largest protests were taking place. Flights to Lambert- St . Louis International Airport were not permitted to land late Monday as a safety precaution, officials said . Mayor James Knowles III of

Defendant Black Lives Matter is in fact a violent and revolutionary criminal gang.” In a related story, a Baton Rouge police officer who claimed he was injured during a Black Lives Matter protest after a deadly police shooting also filed a lawsuit on Monday against the organization and DeRay Mckesson

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The mere presence of protests in this conservative, predominantly white area is unusual, an indication of the movement’s growing support nationwide. One month after Brown’s death, 62 percent of white county residents here called Brown’s shooting justified, and 77 percent said he was not targeted for his race, according to a poll. Those views went beyond the specifics of Brown’s case: Sixty-one percent of white county residents said African-Americans are not targeted by law enforcement for their race.

As protests roiled Ferguson, Mo., and parts of St. Louis, swelling to include violent confrontations between police and demonstrators, many other suburbs remained quiet. An ugly clash outside a Cardinals baseball game, in which white fans insulted and chanted “Africa” at a small group of black protesters, drew national attention.

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Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are We particularly highlighted the egregious ways in which Black women, specifically Black trans women We called it the Black Life Matters Ride. In 15 days, we developed a plan of action to head to the

Black Lives Matter supporters gather across globe. See the giant BLM message painted on road to White House. The death of George Floyd has also resonated in the UK, where thousands protested in central London on Sunday and again on Wednesday, holding Black Lives Matter signs and

But six years later, hundreds of residents have shown up to daily demonstrations in small towns around St. Louis. Crowds of 1,000 or more have gathered in middle- and upper-class suburbs such as St. Charles County, where voters supported Donald Trump by a 26-point margin in 2016.

The expansion of activism to wealthier, whiter communities, though, has not been universally welcomed.

New suburban activists have encountered pushback from some longtime protesters whose experience in the fight for police reform has prompted concern about the tone and tactics of newcomers.  

a group of people holding a sign posing for the camera: Protesters early this month in Brentwood, Mo. © Jeff Roberson/AP Protesters early this month in Brentwood, Mo.

When Matt Jansen, who was a high school freshman here when Brown was killed, decided to organize a protest on June 5 outside the police station in Washington, Mo., he posted to a local activist Facebook group that he planned to thank police officers for allowing them to hold the protest. Not everyone appreciated the gesture.

One person asked whether Jansen had consulted with black movement partners, and if not, told him to stop and regroup.

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Crowds danced and chanted “ black lives matter ,” and a wedding was even held at one point, with the couple reportedly joining the demonstration after the “This protest crowd in Philly is unbelievable unfortunately, now there’s no way a 2nd peak of COVID-19 doesn’ t hit us,” one Twitter user wrote

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“You’re going to applaud the police?” another questioned. “You know they’re the ones killing us right?”

Jansen revised his plans, but the moment showed that the movement’s newfound unity in the exurbs wasn’t without divisions, and that residents in predominantly white areas typically have very different interactions with the police.

Pam Rodriguez, who is white and lives on a former cattle farm near this town, did not attend the protests that erupted around St. Louis after Brown was killed, because she felt that “it didn’t necessarily point to police brutality.”

“People in my group, which is mostly white, were tending to think that the officer was in the right with what he did,” Rodriguez said. But she was upset by video of Floyd’s arrest, which she thought clearly showed excessive force.  

a group of people walking down the street in front of a crowd: Protesters gather at the parking lot at a Target store in Brentwood, Mo., Thursday, June 4, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. The protesters left the Target lot to March along Interstate 64 and back to the Target lot. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP) © David Carson/AP Protesters gather at the parking lot at a Target store in Brentwood, Mo., Thursday, June 4, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. The protesters left the Target lot to March along Interstate 64 and back to the Target lot. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

A 65-year-old retired teacher, Rodriguez appreciated that Jansen started a demonstration of some 80 people by saying that the “police force in Washington has great people in it,” but that “we know there are bad apples in the bunch, and that’s why we are protesting.”

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Alexandria Gray, who is biracial, organized a protest of more than 200 in Union. She also expressed appreciation for police officers at the scene.

“They are making sure that we are okay, that if counterprotesters show up, nothing goes south,” she said.

But closer to Ferguson and St. Louis, not all activists feel safer when police are there, or think they need to thank them.

Victoria Neal, a black recent high school graduate, organized a protest on June 5 in Ladue, a wealthy St. Louis suburb, that attracted more than 1,000 people. Police officers and EMTs in ambulances accompanied the protesters as they marched west into the more conservative Town and Country suburb.

“I am still going to have to watch my back when I go through Ladue because I know I can still get pulled over for being black, even though the cops were nice to me while I was planning my protest,” said Neal, 18. “I still know what this movement is about. I still think our goal is to defund the police.”

The Rev. Traci Blackmon, a member of the United Church of Christ who was on the front lines in Ferguson in 2014, said she supports defunding the police to reinvest in social services and education and to “eliminate poverty so that crime can go down.”

“When we begin to say, ‘This policeman is bad, this policeman is good,’ I think we take our eye off the larger thing that is the enemy of us all, and that is a corrupt system,” said Blackmon, who was a member of the Ferguson Commission, an investigative body formed in 2014 by then-Gov. Jay Nixon (D).

As to the movements’ new supporters on the outskirts of town, Blackmon said: “One train of thought would be to say, ‘Where have you been?’ But that’s not where I am. When people show up for a fight for humanity, I am grateful when they show up.”

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David Dwight, who directs the nonprofit group Forward Through Ferguson, which aims for greater racial equity in the St. Louis area, sees the efforts from suburban and small-town activists as a “maturation of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

“There has been a ton of work by organizers and white people who have been investing in anti-racism groups in St. Louis for the last five years,” he said. “And I think that work, plus this huge flash point nationally, have really shocked a lot of people into action.”

He sees the differences between activists in the city versus those in suburban and rural areas as an expected aspect of any growing movement.

“It’s amazing that more people’s eyes are being opened to the systemic racism that exists in our country,” he said. But “a lot of times we see awareness, and understanding diversity and inclusion, as the endpoint, but really that’s only Step 1.”

Even as the movement has gained new followers in unexpected areas, not everyone has been receptive to Black Lives Matter’s presence in their community.

Laylhany Davis, a black incoming high school senior, attracted more than 300 people to a peaceful protest May 31 across the river from St. Louis in Edwardsville, Ill. She then set her sights on nearby Jerseyville, population 8,000, for a protest Sunday.

That’s when the threats started circulating on Facebook.

“They better not get in my way is all I’m saying,” wrote one person, according to an image of a Facebook post shared by Davis.

“Bout 3 boxes of shells today. Say when,” wrote another. Davis filed a report with the Jerseyville police about the threats.

On Wednesday, Washington’s newspaper, the Missourian, ran an editorial cartoon in which a white woman yells “Help!! Somebody call 911!” as a darker-skinned robs her and says, “Good luck with that, lady. … We defunded the police.”

Jansen and three other people gathered later that day outside the newspaper offices to push for companies to stop advertising in the Missourian and for new ownership of the paper. Co-owners Susan Miller Warden and Jeanne Miller Wood resigned and said their father had put the cartoon in the paper without their knowledge. Bill Miller Sr., the paper’s 90-year-old editor and publisher, later apologized and resigned. (Another daughter is taking over as interim editor and publisher.)

Rodriguez, the retired teacher, said she hopes that young people such as Jansen leading the protests will “go on to help people’s minds change.”

“I just don’t know how many of those young people will stay in this area or will leave for other areas that agree more with their outlook,” she said.


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