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Nov 28, 2014 5:22 PM

Ferguson protest closes huge St. Louis-area mall

The Associated Press

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) Demonstrators temporarily shut down a large shopping mall in suburban St. Louis on one of the busiest days of the year during Friday during one of several organized rallies to protest a grand jury's recent decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.

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 in Richmond Heights, about 10 miles south of Ferguson.

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

The protest was among the largest on Black Friday, which also saw a large rally in Chicago and smaller ones northern California and other cities. Demonstrations also are ongoing in Ferguson, where officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the 18-year-old Brown, who was unarmed, in August.

"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.

Monday night's announcement that Wilson, who is white, wouldn't be indicted for fatally shooting Brown, who was black, prompted violent protests that resulted in about a dozen buildings and some cars being burned. Dozens of people were arrested.

The rallies have been ongoing but have grown more peaceful this week, as protesters turn their attention to disrupting commerce.

Mindy Elledge, who runs a watch kiosk at the Galleria, said it is working.

"I think people are afraid to come here," Elledge said. "With the protests going on, you never know when or where they're going to happen."

The Black Friday protests extended beyond Missouri.

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."

Malcolm London, a leader in the Black Youth Project 100, which has been organizing Chicago protests, said group was also trying to rally support for other issues, such as more transparency from Chicago police.

"We are not indicting a man. We are indicting a system," London told the crowd.

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.

At a shopping center in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, a dozen people gathered and chanted "Black lives matter." Security was heightened at the Wal-Mart in Ferguson on Friday morning, with military Humvees, police cars and security guards on patrol. The store was busy, but there were no protesters.

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.


Associated Press writers Phillip Lucas and David A. Lieb in St. Louis, Mae Anderson in New York, Sara Burnett in Chicago and Kristin J. Bender in Oakland, California, contributed to this report.


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