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Yesterday, May 1st 2015, members of the Socialist Party USA (SPUSA) joined other Socialist Parties and Civil Rights activist from the Black Lives Matter campaigns to protest the recent killings of unarmed black citizens across the US. In particular, the recent death in Baltimore of Freddie Gray, and the announcement of charges brought against six Baltimore Police officers.
In a show of solidarity, the SPUSA had joined with members of the Socialist Alternative and the Socialist Appeal to form the St Louis Socialist
The groups met up in South St Louis in Tower Grove Park near the corner of Grand Avenue and Arsenal around 6PM. The intersection of these two very busy streets were packed with cars and patrons of the local establishments. There, members from the Coalition spoke with other activist and the public about the purpose of the rally and subsequent march down Grand Avenue. The group waited a half hour or so after where their numbers grew as others joined the conversations.
The march began around 7PM with about fifty to sixty people, plus various others from news and other media outlets. Heading down Grand Avenue chanting and displaying signs, the group gained attention as people began coming out of the local businesses and residences to watch. Some joined in the chants, some shouted at the protesters, some honked their horns and showed support from their cars as they passed by, some even began marching with the group. Needless to say, this kind of attention also drew the watchful eye of the St Louis Police Department who began constantly circling the blocks the marchers traveled on.
After picking up some steam and motivated by the show of support from so many in the community, the group began their strategy to “#ShutItDown”. The marchers poured out into Grand Avenue where they paused in the cross walk and refused to yield to cars attempting to pass through the intersection. As traffic was at rush hour levels, this didn’t take long before it began having a grid lock effect in every direction.
As seen here in video courtesy of Twitter’s @STLDagger’s live streaming of the protest.
It didn’t take long after traffic had come to a complete stop in nearly all directions before police showed back up. This time however, they returned three and four to a car in an attempt to have less vehicles blocking the road. Protesters once again began taunting them as they slowly cleared the streets. Invigorated, the protesters met briefly at Mokabe’s Coffee where they planned to move the action back to the city of Ferguson and the scene of Mike Brown’s shooting.
More on that story to come.