Updated at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14
What started as a small protest outside of a political fundraiser, grew into a demonstration attracting more than 100 protesters and 40 officers, some dressed in riot gear, to downtown Webster Groves. The protest started with four protestors sitting in front of a fundraiser for St. Louis County executive Steve Stenger on Monday, Oct. 13. The activist group Ferguson October, an activist group formed to protest the shootings of Michael Brown and VanDerrit Meyers, racial profiling and violence from the police, organized the protest.
Video by Gabe Burns
Webster University student Jeremy Coleman heard about the protest at 5:30 p.m. and immediately organized a group of peers to join. By the end of the demonstration, Coleman and fellow Webster student Brandon Ferrell were leading chants condemning the recent shootings of young black men by white police officers and the County police’s response to the protest.
Coleman said, more than anything, he wanted Stenger and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to hear the protest and publicly condemn the shootings.
“We have to go. We have to let (McCaskill) know that we are not going unheard,” Coleman said.
Ferguson October representative Audrey Hollis said that her organization was at the fundraiser to specifically ask St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to recuse himself from the cases of Brown and VanDerrit. McCulloch has been a vocal supporter of Stenger during his race and Hollis hopes that Stenger will join the protest in asking McCulloch to recuse himself.
“If Stenger does not divorce himself from McColloch he will not be elected,” Hollis said.
McCulloch has received backlash from supporters of the Ferguson protest for perceived leniency in the prosecution of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown. Stenger told CBS in September that he would not denounce McCulloch.
The Journal can confirm four protesters were arrested during the course of the demonstration, although the reason for their arrests is still unknown.
Protesters broke into cheers and applause as the protest wrapped up with the announcement that the fundraiser had ended early. While they filed away from the building a small group began to applaud again. But this time it was for the officers. This group thanked the officers for their service and for keeping the protest peaceful.
Ferrell still would like to see the police open up to protesters instead of standing silent while protesters ask them direct questions.
“I think (the police officers) are handling (the protest) well. They could handle it better by giving us some answers,” Ferrell said.