In the wake of Monday night’s grand jury decision not to indict white Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed, black teenager Michael Brown, a local Mobile group this afternoon carried out a rally march from Lyons Park to the federal courthouse building downtown.
At 3 p.m., a moderately sized group gathered under the park’s pavilion as many participants held signs that read “Stop police brutality and racism,” “Can’t have capitalism without racism,” “Black lives matter” and the phrase, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” which came to high prominence after initial reports suggested Brown had his hands in the air when he was shot.
The march was organized by local civil rights, nonprofit organization People United to Advance the Dream, headed by president Jacob Davis.
Davis said the goal of today’s event was to have a peaceful, yet powerful march, free of any argument or discourse between all of the people who united together for the cause.
“We have had some very positive things said today,” he said.
Before the march, Albert Terry, a member of the Mobile chapter of the national group Socialist Alternative, spoke to the growing crowd at the park.
“This rally is not just about Mike Brown and Darren Wilson,” he said. “This is about something so much more than that.”
The diverse group, made up of black, white, young and old, gave a loud round of applause and cheers after each of his statements.
“We have our own voices, and we have to use those voices,” he said.
During the trek down Springhill Avenue, members of the Mobile Police Department and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office escorted marchers as they repeatedly chanted “No more killer cops.”
Mobile Police Chief Barber said the crowd’s remarks likely stemmed from what took place in Ferguson and were not directed toward MPD, though he admitted that some of the officers were somewhat uneasy.
“I think even my guys were a little uncomfortable because they’re actually escorting a group that’s actually pretty berating to them, but it is their First Amendment right … we don’t have to agree with what the message is. As long as it’s peaceful, we are completely fine with it.”
Barber, who was present at the courthouse, said the march was a success and a “working arrangement” between all parties.
“Mobile police is great,” Davis said of their efforts in ensuring the event remained peaceful.
Barber said MPD was prepared for any events arising from the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson. MPD found out about the march several days ago and worked with organizers to ensure it remained peaceful.
“We respect the First Amendment right of anybody to protest, as long as they’ve done it peacefully, and we would accommodate that.”