One of the St. Louis area’s most popular shopping malls was closed for more than an hour on Black Friday when people protesting the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case marched into the Galleria and lay down on the third floor.
More than 100 protesters marched through the busy mall, chanting “black lives matter” and “stop don’t shoot” and urging shoppers to skip shopping to show solidarity with their cause. Protesters also had converged briefly on the mall Wednesday and left without incident.
Police were on hand Friday in expectation of the protesters. Shoppers were asked to leave after the protesters lay down.
“I thought they were very peaceful,” said Sarah Jeffords-Haas, who walked around the protesters on the floor of the mall.
“This is no longer a protest, it’s an uprising,” said Kymone Freeman, who wore a plastic pig snout while he led the protesters through the mall.
Shoppers and mall employees stopped to watch the protesters and some shops — including Kids Foot Locker and Hallmark — closed their security gates after the protest began around lunchtime.
Some mall workers cheered as the protesters walked by their shops. Two off-the-clock Macy’s employees still in their smocks even briefly joined the marchers, enthusiastically chanting ” no justice, no peace” before returning to the department store.
One of the Macy’s employees said she didn’t fear being reprimanded or losing her job.
“I don’t care if they try to fire me,” said Lisa Jones, who lives in Ferguson. “I got the right to speak.”
Cbabi Bayoc, of St. Louis, brought his three children to take part in the demonstration.
“I brought my kids to show them what peaceful protest and engagement looks like,” he said.
Protesters later descended on West County Center, a mall in Des Peres, Mo.
DeRay McKessen, one activist that helped organize the protesters, said the mall operators briefly shut down the mall after they arrived to protest.
As one group of young protesters left the mall chanting, an older man who was shopping yelled at them to “Go home!”
One of the young protesters responded, “We are home!”
They then drove away.
Nationwide, at least 20 people were arrested after similar protesters disrupted shopping and public transit.
SOURCE: Aamer Madhani