Then it was Ferguson and now it is neighboring Florissant, but on Sunday, June 14, Cathy “Mama Cat” Daniels was doing what she has done for six years: feeding people who protest police violence and demand respect for black lives.
Now a leader with the new protest group Respect Us, Daniels held a family dinner in front of the Florissant Police Department on Sunday. It was Respect Us’ eighth day of protests in Florissant. Having already successfully demanded that Florissant fire Detective Joshua Smith when he was caught on video assaulting an unarmed black man with a police SUV and his fists, Respect Us now demands that Smith be charged with a crime for the assault.
Before Sunday’s protest, there was food and fellowship. Volunteers gathered at a local church to donate ingredients and help Daniels prepare the food.
“I want to make sure that my protest family has that food that I promised them,” Daniels said.
She also prepared for two other meals. She made cupcakes for her newest grandbaby’s baby shower and cakes for the swearing in of Ella Jones, the first black mayor of Ferguson, which will be hosted by Michael P. McMillan, the president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. One cake portrayed Jones; the other rendered the Urban League’s Ferguson Community Empowerment Center, which was built in the ashes of the QuikTrip torched in August 2014.
“Ferguson used to be a sundown town,” Daniels said, meaning blacks risked their lives if they were caught in Ferguson after sundown. “There is so much history in Ella Jones winning mayor elect.”
Protestors gathered outside of 2nd To None Barber and Salon parking lot in Florissant where guest speakers made their voices heard.
“Let us break bread so that these walls can come tumbling down and be broken,” Daniels said. “That’s why we’re here. We are going to make sure that they understand enough is enough.”
Besides Daniels, Charles Buchanan spoke about how Black Trans Lives Matter. Arkayla Tenney-Howard spoke for Respect Us communications. Daven Brown and Elijah spoke on the youth movement. Gospel singer Tamika Foggie sang a powerful rendition of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”
“I stand at the intersections of being black, trans and queer, and often it feels like everybody’s got their knee on the necks of black trans women,” Buchanan said. “I remember being out there with the bishop in Ferguson and being out in Stockley and knowing daily that some people weren’t out there for all black lives.”
Bishop is Bishop Derrick Robinson, a leader of Respect Us. “Stockley” refers to the Stockley verdict protests in St. Louis in 2017-2018, when former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.
After packing up the food and supplies, about 50 cars ventured down Lindbergh Boulevard and blocked off New Florissant Road on their way to the Florissant Police Department. With horns blaring, cars blasted Kendrick Lamar and music that critiqued the police. While passing the police department the cars did not stop there.
Over 30 cars continued to parade through Florissant Mayor Tim Lowery’s neighborhood. Nine police officers were stationed in the mayor’s front yard as cars cruised through. The protest group then circled back around to the Florissant Police Department.
The art on the barricades that block the department’s entrance calling for Smith’s arrest had been covered from the night before, and signs on local businesses saying “Arrest the cop” had been taken down.
After chanting and throwing trash in the police department’s yard, the protestors dispersed around 11 p.m.
For Monday, Respect Us protests are planned at the office of St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar and the Florissant Police Department. Though Smith was videotaped committing assault with a deadly weapon (his police SUV) in St. Louis County, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell appointed Lohmar to take the case because Bell has a conflict. The son of Bell’s director of Operations is a Florissant police officer who was riding in the SUV when Smith assaulted the unarmed 20-year-old man by driving into him and then punching him in the face as he lie injured on the ground.