|VFP member Russell Johnson manhandled by St. Louis cops at city hall protest|
I have been in St. Louis for the past week. I came from my home in Maine
to join other members of Veterans for Peace who have come to your community to
stand with those who are outraged over the killing of Michael Brown. Yesterday
I helped shut down the Galleria Mall for about 90 minutes on what was
appropriately renamed 'Brown Friday'.
I picked up your paper (11-30-14) and was drawn to the Opinion page. I
read local columnist Bill McClellan's piece suggesting that it was "Time to move on....Whatever
happened happened." Not quite the kind of attitude that shows the community is
really ready or willing to deal with the reality of racism and economic
disparity that causes these tragic circumstances. It appears to me that Mr.
McClellan is missing the historic moment here.
After witnessing St. Louis's "finest" charge a peaceful group of us sitting
on city hall steps the other day I got a feel for how police work is done around
here. Barely given a chance to disperse I got a billy club in my chest as I
tried to find a way from the steps around the cops. One of our Veterans for
Peace members (a Persian Gulf war vet from North Carolina) was tackled from
behind as he moved away from the steps and was then grabbed by four cops who
dislocated his shoulder as they man-handled him into a police van. He is a tall
black man and we all wondered if he was selected for "prosecution" in that
I'd not recommend anyone ever come to St. Louis for a vacation - this
doesn't seem to be a very friendly city. But I'm already suggesting that fellow
Mainers come join the protests that I hope will ultimately force this community
to deal with its cold-hearted treatment of its black citizens.
Bruce K. Gagnon
Maine Veterans for Peace