Friday, 28 November 2014

Ferguson protesters disrupt Black Friday shopping............

FERGUSON: Demonstrators temporarily shut down a large shopping mall near Ferguson on the busy shopping day of Black Friday during one of several organized rallies to protest a grand jury's recent decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. 

The protest was among the largest on Friday, which also saw a large rally in Chicago and smaller ones in California and other cities. 

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping season in the US with retailers offering big discounts. Protesters were using the occasion to keep the attention focused on Brown's death, which has stoked debates nationwide about the tensions between black communities and police. 

The grand jury decision, announced Monday, means that officer Darren Wilson, who is white, will not face state charges for shooting Brown, who was black, on August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. 

In the St. Louis area, several stores lowered their security doors or locked entrances as at least 200 protesters sprawled onto the floor while chanting, "Stop shopping and join the movement'' at the Galleria mall, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Ferguson. 

The protest prompted authorities to close the mall for about an hour for a security sweep. It didn't appear that any arrests were made. 

The grand jury's decision prompted violent protests in Ferguson this week that resulted in about a dozen buildings and some cars being burned. Dozens of people were 
The rallies have been ongoing but have grown more peaceful this week, as protesters turn their attention to disrupting commerce. 

"We want to really let the world know that it is no longer business as usual,'' Chenjerai Kumanyika, an assistant professor at Clemson University in South Carolina, said at a rally at a Wal-Mart in Ferguson. 

In Chicago, about 200 people gathered near the city's popular Magnificent Mile shopping district, where Kristiana Colon, 28, called Friday "a day of awareness and engagement.'' She's a member of the Let Us Breathe Collective, which has been taking supplies such as gas masks to protesters in Ferguson. 

"We want them to think twice before spending that dollar today,'' she said of shoppers. "As long as black lives are put second to materialism, there will be no peace.'' 

Other planned events around the country seemed relatively brief and thinly attended in contrast to the large demonstrations earlier this week. In Brooklyn, New York, a "Hands Up, Don't Shop'' protest had been scheduled, but no one materialized. 

In California, more than two dozen protesters chained themselves to trains running from Oakland to San Francisco. About 25 protesters started Friday morning by holding train doors open to protest Brown's death. No one was hurt.