One week after the shooting of an unarmed black man led to riots and tore open racial divides in Ferguson, Mo., about three dozen activists held a prayer vigil for the slain Michael Brown on Saturday.
Heads bowed in prayer, tears trickling down cheeks and hands symbolically held in the air, the activists in Ferguson prayed for peace and justice Saturday afternoon following the day’s predawn looting.
Activists promised a silent vigil for Mike Brown every Saturday at noon across the street from the Ferguson Police Department until justice is served, which, for those gathered, meant a murder conviction for Darren Wilson.
“We are dedicated to calmness and peace,” said co-organizer Beverly Logan, 58, who invited anyone–“black, white, blue…young or old”–to the vigil. She said she will rally peace seekers to form human chains around local businesses, if needed, to prevent vandalism and theft — as demonstrators reportedly did during unrest early Saturday morning.
“We will also knock on doors, if we must, and find the people who looted,” she said. “I will snatch the hair weave off of the person who stole it. They are not what Ferguson is about.”
Logan and some protesters wore T-shirts and carried signs showing a mocked-up TIME magazine cover of President Obama that read: “TIME for change.”
While some protesters have called on Obama to visit Ferguson, Logan said she wore the shirt “because it represented a joyous time,” she said. “I thought there would be more change by the American people about race, but we have a long way to go.”
The vigil follows a tumultuous week that exposed widespread mistrust of the police in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown. Looting and tense standoffs with police brought the town to its knees as heavily armed SWAT times imposed martial order on the town.
Police maintain that Brown struggled with his arresting officer last week before he was shot, while eyewitnesses said they saw Brown put his hands up in surrender shortly before he was repeatedly shot.
As people prayed, the sound of supportive honking car horns mixed with the melancholy notes of a trumpet playing, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” a patriotic hymn with deep roots in civil rights movements.
“God gave me a gift with the trumpet,” said Eugene Gillis, 56. The music signifies the “sweet beauty” and compassion of most people, Gillis said. “Most people are good and want peace.”