In another episode of what was variously being called a day of civil disobedience, a weekend of resistance or Moral Monday in Missouri, protesters invoking the cases of Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers Jr. swarmed the street and faced off yet again with lines of police officers. The civil disobedience was, at least for some, done with one single intent; to goad the police into action and force them to arrest some protesters. The expected celebrity visitors were leading that particular charge.
The planned act, which organizers called Moral Monday, featured a more-than-four-hour protest in which waves of clergy demanded to speak with Ferguson Police chief Tom Jackson and crossed police lines.
Among those arrested in one of the first waves was Dr. Cornel West, an activist and scholar who declared his intentions on Sunday. “I’m not here to give a speech,” he said. “I’m here to get arrested.”
Another theme has emerged which I’d not previously heard. A number of street sports were on display as the protesters sought to shut down traffic and commerce in the area.
Sunday night and early Monday morning more than 1,000 peaceful protesters shut down an intersection by playing jump rope and silently marching through St. Louis before staging a sit-in at St. Louis University…
The first group departed just after 11 p.m., marching to a nearby intersection and shutting down traffic by playing hopscotch, jumping rope and tossing footballs.
The demonstration was a play on what has become one of the most popular chants during the protests:
“They think it’s a game. They think it’s a joke.”
Hopscotch, football and jump rope are great exercise if you’re looking for some cardio, but it’s not exactly the most readily transmitted message for a protest against racism and police brutality. Then again, there do seem to be a number of different groups flocking to the area, each with their own agenda and focus, so unity on messaging probably isn’t at the top of anyone’s list.
One of the most interesting sentiments being expressed, however, touched on the fact that the latest protest was taking place on Columbus Day.
“This is the real definition of resistance … this thing right here that we’re doing right now is not only a symbolism of what we can do when we stick together, this is … It’s the beginning in a change in our consciousness as a people, as a human race,” Dhoruba Shakur said.
They noted the significance of it being Columbus Day, calling him “the first looter” and saying they were “reclaiming” the college campus. “I know this was a college a couple of hours ago, but as of right now this is our spot and we not going nowhere,” a protest leader said.
It’s usually Native American protesters who pick up on the entire Columbus angle, so that came as something of a surprise. But be that as it may, the protest activity continues even as media focus begins to drift away. The objectives of the protesters may not meet with the success they hope for, however. The grand jury is still at work on the Michael Brown case, but there have thus far been few indications that an arrest for officer Darren Wilson is in the offing, and to even produce an indictment they will likely need to be seeing some evidence that none of the rest of us have been privy to. As for Vonderrit Myers, the police claim that they will be able to produce the gun that he fired as the off duty police officer as well as the bullets. Assuming they have the goods, an arrest in that case will remain little more than a fantasy.