Anti-racist Michael Brown protesters delay opening of St. Louis Symphony performance

An organized group of anti-racist and Michael Brown protesters staged a singing protest to raise awareness about the injustices in the case of the unarmed teen who was killed in the middle of a Ferguson street by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August of this year.

Rebecca Rivas of the St. Louis American reports,

Just after intermission, about 50 people interrupted the St. Louis Symphony’s performance of Brahms Requiem on Saturday night, singing “Justice for Mike Brown.” As symphony conductor Markus Stenz stepped to the podium to begin the second act of German Requiem, one middle-aged African-American man stood up in the middle of the theater and sang, “What side are you on friend, what side are you on?”

Which Side Are You On?” was written in 1931 by Florence Reece, the wife of Kentucky mineworker and union organizer Sam Reece. During that year, mineworkers engaged in a violent struggle against greedy mine owners in what would come to be called the Harlan County War. Florence Reece wrote the song “Which Side Are You On?” after law enforcement officers committed acts of violence against her and the children she shared with husband Sam Reece. Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men under the cover of their badges were nothing but paid mercenaries of the mining corporations. Mrs. Reece would later record the song, which has been covered by many different music artists over the years including a remixed rap version by the social/political hip-hop group Rebel Diaz.

In 1931 the New York Times reported,

“The Harlan County War was a series of coal mining-related skirmishes, executions, bombings, and strikes (both attempted and realized) that took place in Harlan County, Kentucky, during the 1930s. The incidents involved coal miners and union organizers on one side and coal firms and law enforcement officials on the other.”

White men react to witnessing Police Officer Darren Wilson gun down unarmed teen in Ferguson, MO.
White men react to witnessing Police Officer Darren Wilson gun down unarmed teen in Ferguson, MO.

Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson despite eyewitness accounts that he executed Michael Brown as the teen attempted to give himself up to the officer, Wilson has yet to be charged. The St. Louis country prosecutor resisting calls to step aside, could have filed charges against Wilson directly but instead chose to ask for an indictment from a secret grand jury that now finds itself under investigation.

Michael Brown
Anti-Racist protesters unfurl -anti-racism” banner from balcony of St. Louis Symphony.

St. Louis Symphony protesters were said to be “a mix of African Americans, Latino and white residents – from college kids to college professors” from different communities in the St. Louis area. One of the signs unfurled from the balcony featured a hand drawn logo of the city of St. Louis with the words above it reading “Racism Lives Here“.

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