Despite soaring temperatures, hundreds turned out for the St. Louis County NAACP’s youth march in Ferguson on Saturday afternoon.
The marchers moved up and down West Florissant Avenue, the street that has been the center of protests since Michael Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer Aug. 9. Unlike some previous violent protests, this march was entirely peaceful. Police officers handed out bottled water as the temperature rose into the upper nineties.
Many marchers wore bright yellow T-shirts with the slogan "courage won’t skip this generation," which they also chanted. Linda Sholar said she brought along her 5-year-old grandson in an effort to prepare him for life outside his family.
"It’s different out in the world than it is at home sometimes. So they got to know both sides, so they can know how to handle it," Sholar said. "That’s why a lot of people don’t know how to handle, like the riot, they don’t know how to handle the bad things that happen."
Standing along the route, Debra Reed and her daughter encouraged people to register to vote. She said one young man told her his vote wouldn’t count. She said she told him his vote times a thousand would change things.
"We do not need a neighborhood that’s 70 percent black run by 100 percent white people," Reed said.
Not long after the NAACP march ended, another group called STL 4 Unity gathered along West Florissant Avenue. Organized by two St. Louis magazines, Alive and Sauce, the group of about 40 people walked to the site where Brown was killed on Canfield Drive.
Several pastors and community leaders spoke near the makeshift memorial, calling for justice and an end to violence against African-American youth. The rally was joined by an organizer from New York toward the end. Kevin Powell, with B K National, told the group he flew into Ferguson Saturday because it’s the beginning of a movement.
"This is a national epidemic," Powell said. "As I was getting on a plane in New York to come here thousands and thousands of people were marching in Staten Island."
Those marchers were protesting the death of Eric Garner, an African-American man who died in July after a police officer put him in a choke hold.;
Darren Wilson Supporters Rally In St. Louis
While thousands have protested the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson these past two weeks, the police officer who killed Brown is not without support. Members of law enforcement and other supporters gathered at Barney’s Pub in St. Louis on Saturday to show that they stand with Darren Wilson.
Retired police officer Nick Fredriksen said that people shouldn't judge Wilson before all the evidence is in.
"Lack of due process for Darren Wilson does not equate justice for Michael Brown," he said.
Lee Whitson heard several supportive honks for his sign that read, "Darren Wilson: 100 percent innocent til proven guilty."
“I don’t understand how justice can ever be done when a group of — I don’t care what race they are — when they start demanding somebody be convicted of murder, be arrested for murder before all the evidence is in,” said Whitson.
He said he didn't think it was fair that Attorney General Eric Holder put so much attention on Michael Brown's case.
Several other supporters were willing to speak, but wouldn't give their names. They said they've received threats.
Organizers of the pro-Wilson rally sold T-shirts and hot dogs to raise money for Wilson. The organizers have also set up an online fundraising account for Wilson through a charity called Shield of Hope. At last count more than $80,000 had been raised.