WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Chanting “Please Don’t Shoot” and holding their hands in the air, 60 people gathered Friday along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to protest the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen shot to death by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
The group, which gathered near Mechanics & Farmers Bank, also chanted “No Justice, No Peace” and “Put the guns down and put the peace signs up.”
A woman held a sign saying, “What happened to innocent until proven guilty.”
Brown, 18, was shot six times Aug. 9 by Officer Darren Wilson during a confrontation. A grand jury in St. Louis County is hearing evidence on whether to charge Wilson.
Brown’s shooting set off nearly two weeks of racial unrest, violence and protests, which only in the past few days has begun to taper off. .
Nakida McDaniel, a community organizer for Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, help staged the local rally.
The protesters were mostly black, but whites and Hispanics also participated. Several college students were there, as well, including some from Wake Forest University.
Two uniformed Winston-Salem police officers patrolled the rally, walking among the protesters and talking with them.
“We came together today because of police violence,” McDaniel said. “Brothers are being killed across the country.”
Artemus Peterson is an organizer with Teen BAM (Becoming a Man), a mentoring group for local teens.
Peterson said Brown’s death was unnecessary.
“Are you telling our kids to respect the police when the police are shooting and killing our kids?” Peterson asked the demonstrators. “Innocent lives are being taken.”
Effrain Muhammed, a local minister with the Nation of Islam, said that Brown’s death reflects a pattern of nationwide police brutality and racial profiling.
“Why is it that we as black men have to explain to black boys how to respond to white police officers?” Muhammed asked. “It’s a mindset of white supremacy that devalues black life.”
He also questioned why local police departments have military equipment such as armored vehicles and assault rifles.
“What you see in Ferguson is the flashpoint of something that is much bigger,” Muhammed said.