A group that swelled to perhaps as large as 100 at its biggest gathered at the Continental Bridge Park Thursday night to express solidarity with Mike Brown, the Ferguson, Missouri, man gunned down by a police officer Saturday, and the protesters in Ferguson who have faced tear gas and intimidation from Ferguson and Saint Louis County police.
At just after 6 p.m. when the candlelight portion of the gathering started, it was very much still light on the bridge. There was a loud-music-accompanied exercise class going on nearby and it was hot. Participants seemed to appreciate the chance to be together and to be heard.
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People spoke of police impact on their lives, and of what should be done to restore trust and balance to relationships between officers and civilians. There was disappointment that it took another unarmed man's death to resurrect the unity that has surfaced and clearly dissipated in the aftermath of other recent killings around the country. Beyond a couple of guys with bandanas covering their faces and signs claiming that the pair represented Anonymous, there was no sign of the Day of Rage protests the group had promoted around the country. There were prayers, hugs and songs, but only one law enforcement officer. There were signs, but no raised voices.
"It's necessary to show solidarity when these things happen," Chad Stanton, a community liaison for Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson said. "It's important to go out and make your displeasure known."
Ebony Isaac, the woman who organized the event, could be seen exchanging contact information and promising future action with those who had gathered as they readied to go home, still well before sundown.
"My mind is blown. Everyone was here, it was a unified effort," she said of the crowd, noting its diversity.