Approximately 60 community members marched peacefully August 17 down Pacific Avenue to protest police brutality and the militarization of the nation’s police force. Protesters made their way downtown with signs and a portable PA system as a sign of solidarity with those protesting in Ferguson, Missouri.
The small Missouri town has been the object of national attention following protests and riots sparked by the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. On August 9, Brown was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson after Brown allegedly reached for the officer’s gun, according to the Ferguson Police Department.
Reports from a private autopsy released this Sunday revealed Brown had been shot at least six times, twice in the head and four times in his right arm. Several witness accounts counter the police report, claiming that there was no struggle for the officer’s gun. Brown’s friend Darion Johnson, who was walking with him at the time, said Brown attempted to take cover but Wilson continued to shoot as Brown surrendered.
Sunday’s demonstration was coordinated over a three day period by a community organization called Project: Pollinate. Based in the Bay Area, Project: Pollinate serves to connect organizations and activists through discussion forums and events like Sunday’s march. The rally was one of many held across the country in support of the citizens of Ferguson. Starting at 12:30 p.m. at the Louden Nelson Community Center, protesters carried signs that read “I am Michael Brown” and “No Justice, No Peace,” honoring victims of police brutality like Oscar Grant, Ezell Ford and Amadou Diallo.
The crowd, primarily comprised of community activists and organizers, chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Break the silence, end police violence.” Their words resonated with a handful of bystanders, who joined the group on their march.
The group made its final stop at the Town Clock at the convergence of Pacific Avenue and Front Street, where a rally took place. Participants used the space as a platform to share their thoughts on the events that transpired in Ferguson in hopes of opening a dialogue. Some attendees chose to recite poems while others read an excerpt from former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner’s manifesto. The manifesto shared Dorner’s experience with racism and violence within the police force.
At around 4 p.m, the rally came to a close with a cypher, a cyclical freestyle rap battle. Those who spoke made it clear that while it was sparked by the death of Michael Brown, the march was an effort to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by police aggressions nationally and internationally.