Activists charged with civil disobedience after concluding 'Moral Monday' march with sit-in at federal courthouse

By Jeff Truesdell
Updated August 10, 2015 07:05 PM
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

St. Louis County, Missouri, has declared a state of emergency Monday after scattered violence interrupted otherwise peaceful weekend observances that marked the killing of Michael Brown by a suburban Ferguson police officer one year ago.

County Executive Steve Stenger issued the declaration – which allows the county police to take the lead over local Ferguson police – on the same day that Tyrone Harris Jr., 18, was charged for firing upon police late Sunday night.

Meanwhile, about 12 miles from Ferguson in downtown St. Louis, more than 50 people were arrested Monday for civil disobedience after a sit-in on the steps of the federal courthouse, reports Fox2Now. The orderly protest after a short march, which was organized by a group called the Ferguson Action Council, was part of a “Moral Monday” campaign to further mark the shooting of the unarmed Brown, who was black, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson.

Protestors such as Deray McKesson documented the sit-in and arrests on social media.

Another protester, Johnetta Elzie, invoked the arrest last month of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was pulled over for a traffic stop, charged with resisting arrest, then found dead three days later in her Texas jail cell. The authorities in Texas ruled Bland’s death as a suicide, a finding which is being challenged by her family.

“If I’m arrested today please know I’m not suicidal,” she Tweeted. “I have plenty to live for. I did not resist, I’m just black.”

Police say Harris, who remained hospitalized Monday in critical condition, was part of a gunfire exchange between rival groups. After he fled on foot and was pursued by police in an unmarked vehicle with its lights flashing, he began firing at the detectives, who fired back, according to police reports.

“The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger,” said the county executive’s order, which also referenced a neighboring municipality struck last year by violence and looting, reports “The time and investment in Ferguson and Dellwood will not be destroyed by a few that wish to violate the rights of others.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon issued a similar statement on Monday, referencing the “sad turn of events” on Sunday that included a drive-by shooting that injured two teen passersby near the Michael Brown memorial in Ferguson, and the burglary of at least one Ferguson business on Sunday night.

“Those who terrorize communities with gunfire and commit violence against police officers are criminals, and their reprehensible acts must not be allowed to silence the voices of peace and progress,” the governor said.

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