BRENTWOOD, Mo. — Hundreds of people took to the streets in Brentwood Thursday evening to honor George Floyd, the man killed by a Minneapolis police officer last week. To end the hours-long rally, they lit up the night with cell phones and flashlights in his memory.
A public memorial was held in Minneapolis Thursday afternoon. Following the memorial, people in Brentwood gathered for the 'I AM George Floyd' rally.
"It could have been me, you know. I am George Floyd," said protester Cedric Gerald.
Demonstrators fear who could be next.
"I have a grandson that I pray for every day and every night," Dee Hollins said.
Hollins brought her niece and nephew to the rally. She has lived through it before.
"I've had water hoses and the dogs and stuff in Virginia. And it wasn't easy. That was the year of 1964," she said.
Nationwide marches for equality is not what she expected for 2020.
'We're lending a voice to those who have already been silenced," Gerald said.
Photos: Hundreds march through Brentwood to honor George Floyd
The event began at 6 p.m. at Brentwood Promenade. There are several stores in shopping complex — including Minneapolis-based Target. It and many other stores were closed and boarded up.
"Our purpose is to heal our community and build our community," organizer and congressional candidate Cori Bush said.
She said the group, ExpectUS, isn't made of peaceful protesters — their goal is to disrupt — but they are non-violent.
They blocked roads in a normally congested area of Brentwood for about three hours. The demonstrators marched down Hanley Road until they reached the Walmart parking lot less than a mile away. The crowd formed a circle and many people took a knee, sat down or laid face-down.
Police officers blocked off streets to allow the crowds to march down the usually busy road. They were parked on nearby lots while the rally stopped on store parking lots.
At around 8:40, they marched back down to Brentwood Boulevard and stood in the street for several minutes under the I-64 overpass.
At around 8:50, the crowd turned on flashlights and cellphones, lighting up the darkness beneath the overpass.
Not everyone supported the march.
In a tense moment as people initially gathered at Target, a man in a pick-up truck drove through the crowd, forcing people to get out of the way. When he came back around a few minutes later, he shouted, flipped people off and as he drove away, protesters and a 5 On Your Side crew heard loud pops.
A security guard working with the 5 On Your Side team identified the sounds as gunshots, as did several protesters. We've reached out to Brentwood police to see what they know about what happened.
ExpectUS has put together other protests in the area, including a gathering in downtown St. Louis Monday afternoon. Thousands of people peacefully marched through streets onto Interstate 64. In a Facebook post, the group said their first goal is to keep everyone safe at the events, and that violence is unacceptable because it further hurts communities.
Earlier in the day, protesters marched down Lindbergh Boulevard in Florissant.
The protesters were seen walking in all lanes of traffic on Lindbergh near Waterford. Police blocked off intersections so protesters could safely walk in the street. Many of them were holding signs while they peacefully walked down the road.
At about 5:15 p.m., the demonstrators stopped on the road and gathered outside the Florissant Police Department. Police placed concrete barriers at the main entrance, along with wooden crowd barriers. Eight National Guard troops were stationed in the parking lot. Several of their vehicles were parked near the entrances to the lot.