A friend had asked the 40-year-old screen printer to make the trip
from his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and produce a T-shirt to
help support the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was
shot dead by Officer Darren Wilson.
Standing on the side of the road where protests have been held every
night for two weeks, Jones sells T-shirts bearing the silhouette of
a man with his hands up and the words, "Please Don't Shoot - R.I.P.
Michael Brown." Sixty percent of the $10 he charges goes to the
Brown family, the rest covers costs.
Jones is just one of hundreds of people from all over the country
who have been drawn to the scene of Brown's shooting, most of them
to show support for the teen's family and Ferguson at large. While
each seems to have personal reasons for coming, nearly all of them
say they felt compelled to be there.
"This community has been hurt bad by Michael Brown's death," Jones
said. His parents need help to get through this, so I'm here to do
So far, the ebullient North Carolinan says he raised up to $2,000
for the Brown family.
Brown's death has sparked days of protests and marches in the mostly
black city just west of St. Louis. The demonstrations have sometimes
turned violent, as the shooting inflamed long-simmering racial
tensions and prompted international condemnation of the clashes
between police and protesters.
While the majority of Brown's supporters are African-American, there
are plenty of whites and Latinos who have marched in support of
Brown. That contrasts with the all-white crowds that have rallied in
support of Wilson.
Like Jones, many of the protesters have come with a clear purpose.
Dina Bargas, who declined to give her age, arrived on Saturday from
Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a friend "to show solidarity with the
people of Ferguson."
Albuquerque was the scene of protests in late March over the killing
of a homeless man by police officers. Bargas said members of her
community had donated money for the trip here.
"Nothing will change until cops are indicted for crimes like this,"
Olivia Wallace, 21, drove more than six hours from Columbus, Ohio,
to march, although she said she had to be back in college on Monday.
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"I wish I could stay longer because I want to see justice done," she
Others say they have come to provide spiritual support.
Steve Carr, a 56-year-old from the St Louis area, was at the scene
of protests on a muggy Saturday evening with a large wooden cross on
his shoulder. As he hauled the cross up and down the street, he
occasionally paused to let residents have their picture taken with
"I've been hearing a lot of people say they want peace and justice,"
he said, sweat pouring off his brow. "What they really want is peace
"The way to grace is through God, so I'm asking people whether they
want to accept or reject Jesus."
Some, like hospital worker Steve Coyne, 52, who drove six hours from
Elkhart, Indiana, on Saturday night, come without a clear sense of
But since arriving, Coyne has been recording conversations about
Brown's death with residents on his iPad.
"I just had to come. I don't know why exactly, but I felt it so I
came,” he said on Sunday. "If I come here, then I can go and discuss
it with people back home."
(Editing by Frank McGurty and Leslie Adler)
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