Activists gathered in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday to march 120-miles to the state capital, Jefferson City, to protest the killing of Michael Brown and a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who shot him dead.
The march, organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was set to begin midday on Saturday at the Canfield Green Apartments, the residential complex near where unarmed black teen Brown was shot on Aug. 9. by officer Darren Wilson.
Protests in Ferguson had dwindled in size in the days after the grand jury decision, but they regained energy on Friday as demonstrators closed down a St. Louis mall and targeted shopping areas on Black Friday.
In total, 16 people were arrested in the area on Friday night and early Saturday morning, according to St. Louis County Police Department media relations officer Shawn McGuire — only one of them was from Missouri. More than a dozen were arrested in Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle.
The NAACP march, which is reminiscent of the civil rights marches of the 1960s, was just one of a diverse set of protests this weekend against the Brown incident, which rekindled a national debate over race relations.
In New York City, a group of activists gathered in Harlem at what Theodora X, leader of activist group The Black and Hispanic Grandmothers Against NYPD Executions, said there has never been a conviction of an NYPD officer for killing an unarmed person of color.
“Black women will not allow NYC to be Ferguson, Missouri or 1963 Birmingham, Alabama,” she said in a statement.
Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez, a black security guard who died after being subjected to a chokehold by police in the Bronx in 1994, drew a connection between her own loss and that of Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother.
“The system set up that town for what happened,” she said. “I feel her pain.”
Calvin Hunt, a participant in the rally and Harlem resident, who was wearing a T-shirt with the image of a bull's-eye, said he had been targeted by policemen and beaten at the funeral of Eric Gardner — a black man who died at the hands of four cops who held him in a chokehold in New York in July. Hunt's two children, holding a protest sign at the rally, had witnessed the assault, he said. “The police are killing us at a rapid rate, and we’re not brought justice.”
In Chicago, similar grievances were aired when Malcolm London, a leader in the Black Youth Project 100, which has been organizing Chicago protests, said the group was rallying or more transparency from Chicago police. About 200 people gathered on Friday near the city's popular Magnificent Mile shopping district.
"We are not indicting a man. We are indicting a system," London told the crowd.
In Oakland, more than a dozen people were arrested after about 125 protesters wearing T-shirts that read "Black Lives Matter" interrupted rail service from Oakland to San Francisco. In San Francisco, protesters smashed windows and hurled bottles and other objects at police, leaving two officers injured. Dozens of people in Seattle blocked streets, and police said some demonstrators protested at a local shopping center.
Al Jazeera and wire services. Additional reporting by Lisa De Bode in New York City.