ST. LOUIS – A weekend of peaceful daytime protests and nightly police standoffs is expected to continue Sunday as organizers prepare for a wave of resistance they anticipate will lead to widespread, intentional arrests the following day.
Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October summit to protest the early August police shooting death of Michael Brown are scheduled to train participants in nonviolent civil disobedience tactics Sunday morning.
On Monday, a "direct action" led by local and visiting clergy members is planned for Ferguson and other spots in and around St. Louis. Protest leaders don't plan to release details until shortly ahead of time to avoid tipping off law enforcement. Leaders are taking their cues from the Moral Monday demonstrations that began last year in North Carolina before spreading to several other Southern states.
"We still are knee deep in this situation," said Kareem Jackson, a St. Louis rap artist and community organizer whose stage name is Tef Poe. "We have not packed up our bags, we have not gone home. This is not a fly-by-night moment. This is not a made-for-TV revolution. This is real people standing up to a real problem and saying, 'We ain't taking it no more.'"
A crowd that organizers estimated at 3,000 marched through downtown St. Louis on Saturday to protest Brown's death and other fatal police shootings in the St. Louis area and nationwide. Police reported no arrests or violent incidents as of late Saturday, when the protests fanned out to Ferguson.
But early Sunday morning, several protesters made their way to the south St. Louis neighborhood where another black 18-year-old was killed by a white police officer just days earlier. Protesters occupied a Quicktrip gas station convenience store and staged a sit-in, some sitting outside.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson posted on Twitter that protesters were "attempting to storm" the business. He later posted that protesters were "throwing rocks at the police" and "arrests have been made for continued illegal behavior." It was not immediately known how many arrests were made or what charges those arrested could face.
Two months after Brown's death sparked an initial wave of violent riots and led Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to summon the National Guard, the highly organized weekend brought many newcomers to St. Louis.
The new arrivals included Vietnam-era peace activists, New York City seminarians, many college students and hundreds of fast-food workers bused in from Chicago, Nashville and other cities.
Outside Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, where the Cardinals lost to the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the National League Championship Series, several dozen protesters stood on the sidewalk Saturday night, chanting and holding signs. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that fans headed to the game mainly went around the protesters without stopping to look, though a few cheered their efforts. Game 2 in the series is scheduled for Sunday night.
The planned events 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, a white Ferguson officer, in the Aug. 9 death of Brown, who was black. A grand jury is reviewing the case and the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation.
Dotson said the city had enlisted extra officers and was prepared for trouble, though he hoped for the best. Earlier in the week, a small group of protesters verbally clashed outside the stadium with Cardinals fans who support the Ferguson officer. Dotson said the city also will bolster its police presence when the St. Louis Rams host the San Francisco 49ers Monday night
Organizers said beforehand that they expected as many as 6,000 to 10,000 participants for the weekend's events. Police were not able to provide a crowd estimate Saturday.
Since Brown's death, three other fatal police shootings of black males have occurred in the St. Louis area. The most recent involved an off-duty St. Louis officer who was working for a private neighborhood security patrol when he shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit D. Myers on Wednesday night.
The white officer, whose name hasn't been released, fired 17 rounds after police say Myers opened fire. Myers' parents say he was unarmed, and many speakers at the Saturday rally echoed those doubts.