Tag Archives: hands up

Museum working to preserve plywood art in Ferguson

The Missouri History Museum and the Regional Art Commission are working to preserve art that has been added to plywood meant to protect storefronts or cover damage from protesting in Ferguson and St. Louis.

The wood has been enhanced with drawings, bright colors and positive sayings, such as “listen with love” and “heal the world,” since a grand jury last month declined to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old.

Hundreds of artists have banded together to highlight the community’s strength and provide a positive outlet that will allow people to move past the images of businesses being looted and burned, said Tom Halaska, owner of the Art Bar on Cherokee Street and an organizer with Paint for Peace STL. The effort has received tremendous support from business owners and residents, he said.

About 100 board-covered businesses have been decorated, and participants plan to continue their artistic mission, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The museum hopes to eventually collect some of the art for research or possibly for an exhibit, according to Chris Gordon, director of library and collections.

But not everyone supports the preservation effort, and opposition has been felt by business owners and protesters alike.

“It’s not the history you’d want to remember,” said Varun Madaksira, owner of the Original Red’s BBQ in Ferguson, which was set on fire after the grand jury announcement.

Tony Rice of Ferguson has been protesting since Brown was killed on Aug. 9. He believes the plywood art masks residents’ sadness.

“It’s an attempt to whitewash the pain the community has suffered,” Rice said.

Supporters of the effort say art can help turn a negative situation into a positive one. Boarded-up buildings can lead people to believe an area is unsafe, said Rachel Witt, executive director of the South Grand Community Improvement District.

“When you put paint on, it really changes the perspective,” she said.

Thousands rally across U.S. after grand jury fails to indict Ferguson officer

Thousands of people rallied late on Nov. 24 in U.S. cities, passionately but peacefully protesting a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who killed a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.

People led marches, waved signs and shouted chants of “hands up, don’t shoot,” the refrain that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the country.

In Milwaukee, protesters gathered in Red Arrow Park before the decision was announced from Missouri. Red Aarow is where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed Dontre Hamilton seven months ago.

The most disruptive demonstrations were in St. Louis and Oakland, California, where protesters flooded the lanes of freeways, milling about stopped cars with their hands raised in the air.

Activists had been planning to protest even before the nighttime announcement that Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The racially charged case in Ferguson has inflamed tensions and reignited debates over police-community relations even in cities hundreds of miles from the predominantly black St. Louis suburb. For many staging protests on Nov. 24, the shooting was personal, calling to mind other galvanizing encounters with local law enforcement.

Police departments in several major cities braced for large demonstrations with the potential for the kind of violence that marred nightly protests in Ferguson after Brown’s killing. Demonstrators there vandalized police cars and buildings, hugged barricades and taunted officers with expletives on Nov. 24 while police fired smoke canisters and tear gas. Gunshots were heard on the streets and fires raged.

But police elsewhere reported that gatherings were mostly peaceful following the announcement.

As the night wore on, dozens of protesters in Oakland got around police and blocked traffic on Interstate 580. Officers in cars and on motorcycles were able to corral the protesters and cleared the highway in one area, but another group soon entered the traffic lanes a short distance away. Police didn’t immediately report any arrests.

A diverse crowd of several hundred protesters marched and chanted in St. Louis not far from the site of another police shooting, shutting down Interstate 44 for a time. A few cars got stuck in the midst of the protesters, who appeared to be leaving the vehicles alone. They chanted “hands up, don’t shoot” and “black lives matter.”

“There’s clearly a license for violence against minorities, specifically blacks,” said Mike Arnold, 38, a teacher. “It happens all the time. Something’s got to be done about it. Hopefully this will be a turning point.”

In Seattle, marching demonstrators stopped periodically to sit or lie down in city intersections, blocking traffic before moving on, as dozens of police officers watched.

Groups ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people also gathered in Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Washington, D.C., where people held up signs and chanted “justice for Michael Brown” outside the White House.

“Mike Brown is an emblem (of a movement). This country is at its boiling point,” said Ethan Jury, a protester in Philadelphia, where hundreds marched downtown with a contingent of police nearby. “How many people need to die? How many black people need to die?”

In New York, the family of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man killed by a police chokehold earlier this year, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at a speech in Harlem lamenting the grand jury’s decision. Later, several hundred people who had gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square marched peacefully to Times Square.

In Los Angeles, police officers were told to remain on duty until released by their supervisors. About 100 people gathered in Leimert Park, and a group of religious leaders held a small news conference demanding changes in police policies.

A group of about 200 demonstrators marched toward downtown.

The marchers briefly shut down the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 110 in downtown Los Angeles, according to City News Service. People stood and lay in the northbound lanes and the center divider. California Highway Patrol officers declared an unlawful assembly.

After midnight, about 100 police officers wearing riot gear fired hard foam projectiles into the ground to disperse about 50 protesters on Pico Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Another group of about 30 people marched all the way to Beverly Hills, where they lay down in an intersection.

Chris Manor, with Utah Against Police Brutality, helped organize an event in Salt Lake City that attracted about 35 people.

“There are things that have affected us locally, but at the same time, it’s important to show solidarity with people in other cities who are facing the very same thing that we’re facing,” Manor said.

At Cleveland’s Public Square, at least a dozen protesters’ signs referenced police shootings that have shaken the community there, including Saturday’s fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a fake gun at a Cleveland playground when officers confronted him.

In Denver, where a civil jury last month found deputies used excessive force in the death of a homeless street preacher, clergy gathered at a church to discuss the decision, and dozens of people rallied in a downtown park with a moment of silence.

Twitter: #Ferguson

Associated Press writers Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco; Jim Salter and Alan Zagier in St. Louis; Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles; Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Sean Carlin in Philadelphia; Deepti Hajela in New York; Michelle L. Price in Salt Lake City; and Joshua Lederman in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.