As the protests in solidarity with demonstrations across the country sparked by the fatal arrest of George Floyd transitioned from St. Louis City to St. Louis County on Saturday, May 30, the region was in familiar territory.
Nearly six years after Ferguson erupted in the name of Mike Brown and three years since protests took place in St. Louis City in response to the non-conviction of former St. Louis City Police officer Jason Stockley in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith , the streets were once again with people fed up with African Americans losing their lives at the hands of police.
In an epic day of demonstration, hundreds made their way to Clayton early in the afternoon on Saturday for a march and rally that kicked off at the St. Louis County Justice Center. Protestors then blocked traffic as they demonstrated down Forest Park Parkway.
“We are here because of what happened in Minneapolis, but there have been many killings around this country by police officers,” the Rev. Daryl Gray said, according to St. Louis Public Radio. “Not just in recent days, weeks and months. But throughout the years.”
Saturday evening, they returned to the exact spot where the St. Louis region sparked a global conversation about the fractured relationship between black people and law enforcement. Two months ahead of the six-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, protestors gathered in Ferguson for George Floyd.
The chants for Floyd were the same as they were for Brown.
“No justice, No peace. No racist police,” Many held signs. Among them were the plain, yet profound black and white “Black Lives Matter” signage that became a part of the visual fabric for those who came from far and wide to decry police violence against African Americans in a place that before August 9, 2014 was a nondescript municipality within St. Louis County. The de ja vu element that permeated Saturday night was both eerie and telling.
Just as then-Governor Jay Nixon did in 2014, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency Saturday night after two consecutive days of protests in the region.
The Missouri National Guard has been activated in response to Parson’s declaration following the demonstrations and the Missouri Highway Patrol will be on hand to aid local law enforcement.
“What’s going on in Minneapolis makes you think about what happened in Ferguson - makes you think about Mike Brown,” said activist Clara Holmes said during Friday night’s protests in St. Louis. “And then you stop and think ‘that was five years ago. So, the world is mad. Yes, we are mad. And we are going to continue to be mad.”
Information from St. Louis Public Radio contributed to this report.