Ferguson Protesters Disrupt St. Louis County Council Meeting Calling for Arrest of Officer

Annabel Grossman, Daily Mail (London), September 17, 2014

Protesters seeking the immediate arrest of the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown loudly disrupted another government meeting yesterday.

The protests have renewed calls to remove the county prosecutor investigating the case involving the death of the black 18-year-old who was shot dead by Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.

The demand for Wilson’s arrest began with the final utterance of the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the St. Louis County Council meeting.

When the pledge concluded with ‘and justice for all, crowd members shouted ‘For All’, putting emphasis on the second word.

A grand jury in Missouri has been given until January next year to decide whether Wilson acted criminally when he shot the teenager earlier this year.

Brown was fatally shot August 9 after a confrontation that began when Darren Wilson asked him and a friend to walk on the sidewalk instead of the street.

The grand jury was initially set to conclude its work on September 10, but a judge has extended its term until early next year, should the extra time be deemed necessary.

A larger protest took place a week ago at the Ferguson City Council’s first meeting since Michael Brown’s death.

This was followed by unsuccessful efforts to block an interstate highway during rush hour in a demonstration that led to 35 arrests.

There was also a weekend demonstration in downtown Ferguson linked to calls for a boycott of local businesses.

Protest leaders said they plan to broaden their efforts with demonstrations at upcoming games hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals and the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, who host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

‘It’s no more business as usual,’ said activist Anthony Shahid, who addressed the seven council members with a noose symbolically tied around his neck.

Anthony Shahid confronts council members

Anthony Shahid

Protesters want county prosecutor Bob McCulloch to either step aside or for Gov. Jay Nixon to appoint a special prosecutor.

They cite concerns about whether he could fairly oversee the case since his father was a police officer killed in the line of duty when McCulloch was a child, and he has many relatives who work in law enforcement.

McCulloch, who has been the county’s elected prosecutor for more than two decades, could have filed charges himself but chose to take the case to a grand jury to decide whether the use of lethal force was justified.

Many of the nearly 40 speakers at the council meeting directed their scorn at Councilman Steve Stenger, who relied on McCulloch’s endorsement to defeat County Executive Charlie Dooley in a Democratic primary days before Brown’s death.

Stenger faces a Republican state lawmaker in the November general election.

‘Don’t vote for Stenger,’ the crowd chanted. Other speakers gave Stenger an ultimatum to ‘denounce’ McCulloch no later than noon on Wednesday. The shouts, jeers and chants drowned out his attempts to speak at the meeting’s outset.

Hazel Erby, the council’s lone black member, was the only other elected official to speak. She drew cheers when she told the demonstrators, ‘I have to say I agree with you.’

After the meeting, protesters had four and a half minutes of silence in the hallway to signify the four and a half hours that Brown’s body lay in the street. They then briefly marched through downtown Clayton.

McCulloch has previously said he expects the panel to complete its inquiry into Brown’s shooting by next month.

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