More than 100 people gathered Friday in support of the community of Ferguson, Missouri. The small town was devastated Aug. 9 when an unarmed African-American teenager was shot by a white cop on a street corner.
The Boise rally took place on Aug. 22. It started at Julia Davis Park at 2:30 p.m. and the group peacefully marched down Capitol Boulevard to City Hall.
After settling in for a few moments, the crowd began its chants, screaming “we want justice,” “power to the people” and “justice for Ferguson.” Alejandra Mejia, former co-chair of Movimiento Estudianti Chicano de Aztlan, led these chants. She also spoke at the rally.
“The only thing that kept going through my mind today was that Mike Brown, age 18, would have been starting college in the fall,” she said. “He was robbed from that opportunity.”
Tai Simpson, a community member and local activist, also spoke at the rally. She believes a large problem in the United States is that many people don’t learn from the lessons of the past.
“Ferguson is not an isolated event,” she said. “It’s not the first time it’s happened and it’s not the last time it’s going to happen.”
According to her, racism in the U.S. is an issue that only the people affected by it are aware of. Simpson feels that people either ignore racism or act as though it doesn’t exist, which is just as bad.
“Colorblindness is just as damaging as overt malicious racism,” Simpson said.
Ryan Shields, who lives near Ferguson in St. Louis, spoke at the rally about the events taking place in the town of 21,000 people.
Of the 53 police officers actively serving the Ferguson community, only three are black. In 2013, he said there were 562 traffic stops of black people in Ferguson alone; there were just 43 white people stopped. This resulted in 483 arrests of black people and six of white people.
Shields believes that Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin and other recent victims of racial violence are just “names of the moment.” These types of issues have taken place in the past and will again in the future unless people start to take notice.
“It’s time to stop saying this is not our problem and face the uncomfortable truth,” Shields said.
Although most protests during the day in Ferguson have been peaceful, some people have taken to looting at night. This Shields said is shown more heavily and reflects the protests in a negative way.