The US city of Ferguson is bracing for a weekend of protests on the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.
The 18-year-old’s death on Aug. 9, 2014 ignited fierce street protests for months and saw fighting between police and protestors, making the small Missouri city a focal point of a national debate on race relations and allegations of police brutality, Anadolu reported.
Activist groups, many of which were formed in reaction to the fatal shooting, are planning events, concerts and protests for the weekend to both commemorate black victims of police violence as well as calling for meaningful change in the US justice system.
On Saturday, Ferguson Action Council and the family of Vonderrit Myers, another teenager who was shot and killed by an off-duty officer during Ferguson protests in Oct. 2014, will organize a rally across the city. The rally will be followed by a community rock music concert hosted by activists.
On Sunday, a rally dubbed ‘Silent March’ will be led by Michael Brown’s father to honor those who lost their lives to police violence.
Protesters will hold a moment of silence at midday on the street where Brown was killed. The silence will last for 4 minutes and 30 seconds, as a nod to the time he spent lying dead in the street.
There will also be a panel by black socialist activist Cornel West and a number of intellectuals to address the issue of racial justice.
Ferguson attracted global media attention following Brown’s death, and subsequently came under federal investigation.
According to Denise Lieberman, the co-chair of the ‘Don’t Shoot Coalition’ activist group, police violence surfaced as a national, political and human rights issue with Brown’s death.
“The tragic death of Mike Brown at the hands of police last year has spurred a movement that has changed hearts, minds and policies around the country and internationally”, she told the Agency.
“There is still a long way to go,” she said, adding that some progress has also been scored in the fight for justice.
She said a recent Justice Department report which found patterns of racial bias by the city’s police and municipal court was important in recognizing the problem
In March, the scathing report by the Department of Justice cited city officials’ alleged roles in encouraging the force to use systematic patterns of racial bias in its policing practices against minorities.
The report led to the resignation of city manager John Shaw and police chief Thomas Jackson. Last month, the city selected Andre Anderson, who is black, as its interim police chief.