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Ferguson-related unrest disrupts Black Friday shopping in several cities

The Associated Press
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REUTERS
A protestor, demanding justice for the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, interrupts Black Friday shopping while demonstrating with others on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, at the St. Louis Galleria Mall in Missouri.

FERGUSON, Mo. — Demonstrators temporarily shut down three large malls in suburban St. Louis on one of the busiest shopping days of the year Friday, as other rallies were held nationwide to protest a grand jury’s recent decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Several stores lowered their security doors or locked entrances as at least 200 protesters sprawled onto the floor while chanting, “Stop shopping and join the movement” at the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights a few miles south of Ferguson, where Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown, who was unarmed, in August.

The action prompted authorities to close the mall for about an hour Friday afternoon, while a similar protest of about 50 people had the same effect at West County Mall in nearby Des Peres. It didn’t appear that any arrests were made. Later Friday, the appearance of several dozen demonstrators led to the early closing of the Chesterfield Mall.

The protests, along with demonstrations in Chicago, New York, Seattle and Northern California — where protesters chained themselves to trains — were among the largest in the country on Black Friday.

“We want to really let the world know that it is no longer business as usual,” Chenjerai Kumanyika, an assistant professor at Clemson University in South Carolina, said at a rally at a Wal-Mart in Manchester, another St. Louis suburb.

The announcement this week that Wilson, who is white, wouldn’t be indicted for fatally shooting Brown, who was black, prompted violent protests that resulted in about a dozen buildings and some cars being burned. Dozens of people were arrested. The rallies have been ongoing but have grown more peaceful as protesters turn to disrupting commerce.

Mindy Elledge, who runs a watch kiosk at the Galleria, said it was working.

“I think people are afraid to come here,” Elledge said. “With the protests going on, you never know when or where they’re going to happen.”

In Northern California, more than a dozen people were arrested when about 125 protesters wearing T-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter” interrupted train service from Oakland to San Francisco, with some chaining themselves to trains. Dozens of people in Seattle blocked streets, and police said protesters apparently chained doors shut at the nearby Pacific Place shopping center.

In Chicago, about 200 people gathered near the city’s popular Magnificent Mile shopping district, where Kristiana Colon, 28, called Friday “a day of awareness and engagement.” She’s a member of the Let Us Breathe Collective, which has been taking supplies such as gas masks to protesters in Ferguson.

“We want them to think twice before spending that dollar today,” she said of shoppers.

Malcolm London, a leader in the Black Youth Project 100, which has been organizing Chicago protests, said the group was also trying to rally support for other issues, such as more transparency from Chicago police.

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