St. Louis—In the second week of protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer, St. Louis Metropolitan police on Monday arrested nine protesters for blocking the entrance of a state office building.
Among those arrested was Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives in St. Louis.
“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90,” Epstein told The Nation, as two officers walked her to a police van. “We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.”
Roughly 125 protesters marched to the entrance of the historic Wainwright Building, which houses Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s downtown office. They demanded Nixon withdraw National Guard troops from Ferguson municipality, where peaceful protests throughout the week were disrupted by late night riots. The protesters also called for a special prosecutor to lead the investigation of Brown’s death, as well as an expansion of the Department of Justice’s existing investigation to look into patterns of civil rights violations across North St. Louis County.
The crowd kicked off the two-block march singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round.” Participants took turns addressing the crowd, using a megaphone. The demonstrators chanted “Hey hey! Ho ho! National Guard has got to go!” and “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
Ebony Williams, 22, addresses a crowd of protesters outside the Wainwright Building in downtown St. Louis. (Photo by Steven Hsieh)
Nine demonstrators linked arms in front of security guards at the building’s entrance, as police officers watched from inside. At around 4:20 pm, a police officer informed the nine that they each faced arrest for blocking the doorway. Shortly after, police escorted each demonstrator away in plastic handcuffs.
St. Louis police charged the nine arrestees with failure to disperse. All but one of were released, according to Jeff Ordower, an organizer with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.
The rally was organized by the Organization for Black Struggle. A Facebook page for the action reads, “Effective policing does not need to include masses of military equipment, intimidation, and denial of constitutional rights.”
Police also arrested Ebony Williams, a 22-year-old from St. Louis. Williams, who is pregnant, earlier told the crowd that she worries about raising her son around police officers that could target him because of his race.
“I’m out here standing up for what’s right. What they did to Michael Brown is not right,” Williams said. “We have to have justice. We want justice now.”
CORRECTION (8/19/2014 3:06 am): An earlier version of this post stated that eight protesters were arrested in downtown St. Louis on Monday. In fact, nine were arrested.