'We are Family Now': Faces of the Ferguson Protests
"I'm a former St. Louis police officer and I was a black man before I was a police officer. It saddens me to see what has happened here to Mike Brown," said William Monroe, an education activist. "We have seen across the US what happens to people of color by the police and it repeats itself. You'd have to be foolish to think it's going to work now. Something extra has to happen."
"It was emotional and genuine because we came a long way," said Londrelle Hall, right, who along with Ray Mills ran and walked over 500 miles from Atlanta to Ferguson, arriving in pouring rain at the memorial marking the site of Michael Brown's death. Mills said of their 20-day journey: "We did this to show that we can be united and that we can stand for something we believe in."
"I have a 12-year-old brother, Michael. He only wants to be Michael Jackson, but our world will make him Michael Brown," said De Nichols, an artist and organizer. "Protesting isn't for everyone, but everyone can do something." Not inclined to shout, but determined to speak out, Nichols has worked on several projects including a coffin made of mirrors and the notes she put up on this wall near a peace vigil. They're phrases contributed by people who completed the sentence: "One action I will take beyond today for justice is..."
D White, who said he lives nearby, speaks at the site of Michael Brown's death in anticipation of the grand jury announcement, saying "I'm mad like it happened yesterday. It could have been me. I'm ready for war."
Marc Daniels, campaign director of WeedOutHate.org, stands near the site of Michael Brown's death. "Our concept is to get the children of the police and the children of the protesters on April 3 and plant thousands and thousands of sunflower plants across the city. I'm a flower child. The energy here is higher than anywhere else in the world. It could go either way. I want to change the world."
"It could have been me laying on the ground," said D-Red Jones, left, standing in the frame with Meechie Jordan at a peace vigil at Harris-Stowe State University. Jones, who said he is a cousin of Michael Brown, had planned to study graphic design but gave up on school in despair after Brown's death. "They treated him like a dog. I was just angry. He was the one who motivated me to go to school. If I went back to school it would be for him."
Cat Daniels hands out walnut scones and other snacks outside the Ferguson Police Department. She said about her inclination to cook: "This is a blessing. God gave me a talent and I'm able to use my talent to help people. I offer care, comfort, nutrition -- that's who I am. 108 days ago none of us knew each other, we are family now. This is a family affair, I have to make sure my families are fed."
Clay, from St. Louis, who preferred not to give his last name, said he visits Ferguson's protests once or twice a week to "make sure everything's peaceful and show support with the numbers. A lot of people tell me 'you don't look like the kind of guy who might be out here.' A middle class black guy doesn't fit the profile of a protester. I want to show support. Keep it peaceful, don't loot. It goes a lot further if it's a peaceful message."
Jae Gatsby, Ike Zero, and rcversie arrived on skateboards at the protest outside the Ferguson Police Department. "As a skateboarder it's really important to us because we're rebels too. As rebels we're showing that we're serving our country by following our rights, by being ourselves." Gatsby noted: "If there's a lot of us skating, a cop pulls us over, asks us what we're doing. When I skate with my white friends that doesn't happen."
Captain Ray Lewis retired from the Philadelphia Police Department in 2003. This is his second trip to Ferguson, where he hopes to make the protests accessible to more people. "I wanted to show solidarity with the people here because they have been oppressed, exploited and discriminated against their whole lives. I wanted to bring a white police face to mainstream America that just sees blacks rioting on their TVs."
-- John Brecher and Tracy Jarrett