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Mom, daughter trek 750 miles on $100 budget to join 'Weekend of Resistance'

By Michael Martinez, Bill Kirkos and Stephanie Elam, CNN
updated 12:26 PM EDT, Sun October 12, 2014
  • NEW: Protesters threw rocks at police early Sunday, police say
  • Mom and daughter travel 750 miles to St. Louis on a shoestring budget to join protest
  • There are no arrests, injuries or property damage in civil disobedience march, police say
  • The protests are to demand justice for Mike Brown and other victims of police violence

St. Louis, Missouri (CNN) -- Hundreds of demonstrators marched 12 miles Saturday from Ferguson, Missouri, to a downtown St. Louis plaza near its iconic Arch to deliver a message: They want the police officer who killed Michael Brown to be charged with a crime.

But few protesters traveled as far as Sara Benjamin, 23, and daughter Imari, 5.

They trekked 750 miles from Baltimore to attend the Justice For All Rally on St Louis' Kiener Plaza.

"I came down here because I'm the mother of a 5-year-old, and we wanted to show our solidarity with the people of Ferguson," Benjamin said. "I think this is an attempt to break up the black community by targeting black men."

Sara Benjamin, 23, and daughter Imari, 5, traveled from Baltimore to attend the Justice For All rally in St Louis.
Sara Benjamin, 23, and daughter Imari, 5, traveled from Baltimore to attend the Justice For All rally in St Louis.

She was referring to how a white Ferguson police officer fatally shot Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed, on August 9.

By splitting costs with others for gas, food and lodging, the trip cost her a little over $100, Benjamin said.

Civil rights activists calling for charges to be brought against the police officer who killed Brown held a second day of protests Saturday.

According to tweets from St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, protesters threw rocks at police and tried to storm a QuikTrip store early Sunday.

"Arrests have been made for continued illegal behavior" says one tweet.

The protests, dubbed a "Ferguson October" and "Weekend of Resistance," are taking place in Ferguson, St. Louis and the surrounding area.

Demonstrations focused on the encounter between Brown and Police Officer Darren Wilson, who authorities said shot Brown after he attacked him and tried to take his gun. But witnesses said the unarmed teenager had his hands in the air when he was shot. The shooting prompted weeks of protests in Ferguson, which sometimes became violent when demonstrators and police clashed.

Before this week, protests had died down considerably.

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The goal of the protests scheduled for Friday through Monday is to demand Wilson's arrest and bring attention to what organizers describe as racial profiling and police violence nationwide.

"Power concedes nothing without a demand," organizers said.

"Our country can no longer deny the epidemic of police violence facing black and brown communities," the movement's website states. "Mike Brown is now part of a long list of people like John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant and countless others who have been unjustly killed by police. Their lives mattered."

Demonstrations on Friday night focused on the Ferguson Police Department, which is facing a storm of criticism after Brown's death.

A large group of protesters marched the West Florissant corridor -- the scene of looting and vandalism after Brown's death -- to police headquarters. Then they proceeded to St. Louis, said St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman.

More protests planned in Ferguson
Singing protest shocks crowd
Protesters march in Ferguson, Missouri, on Thursday, August 21. The St. Louis suburb has been in turmoil since a white police officer, Darren Wilson, fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, on August 9. Some protesters and law enforcement officers have clashed in the streets, leading to injuries and arrests. Protesters march in Ferguson, Missouri, on Thursday, August 21. The St. Louis suburb has been in turmoil since a white police officer, Darren Wilson, fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, on August 9. Some protesters and law enforcement officers have clashed in the streets, leading to injuries and arrests.
Emotions run high in Ferguson, Missouri
Photos: Emotions run high in Ferguson Photos: Emotions run high in Ferguson

Marchers in the diverse, multigenerational crowd declared their attempt to create a national movement about alleged police abuses against minorities as "vitally important," one demonstrator said. Protesters hailed from California, Illinois and Kansas.

"We have people from all across the United States to stand in one accord for justice in this matter," Reginald Rounds, who lives in the same apartment complex where Brown resided, said Saturday.

"We are not going to stop addressing the matter until we get some resolve. We'll be here," he said.

Organizers said they expect thousands to attend four days of events.

The early Saturday protests featured a few hundred people as police in riot gear stood watch.

"No justice, no peace!" they chanted. "Hands up, don't shoot!" Others carried placards that read, "Demilitarize the police."

As protesters stared down police officers standing single file, an announcement came on a megaphone. "If you touch a police officer, you will be arrested for assault," it said.

Complete coverage of Ferguson shooting and protests

The protests kicked off Friday afternoon when demonstrators invoked a Mexican Halloween tradition and set up a Day of the Dead altar to memorialize Brown and others. The altar featured candles, flowers and photos of the deceased.

Men in dark suits quietly carried a coffin made of mirrors down the streets as chanting protesters followed.

A few hours later, the crowd dispersed.

Michael Brown
Michael Brown

Several other events will be held Sunday, including an evening meeting of "reflection and resistance" at St. Louis University with author and professor Cornel West, rapper-activist Tef Poe and Rabbi Susan Talve.

A closing ceremony Monday will feature participants removing items from the Day of the Dead memorial, organizers said.

Twelve miles away in St Louis, protesters have also rallied against the death of Vonderrit Deondre Myers, 18.

Protests erupted there after a white police officer fatally shot the black teenager. But this one was different from the Brown case because the teenager was armed and fired at the officer, according to authorities.

CNN's Stephanie Elam and Bill Kirkos contributed from Missouri. Faith Karimi, Brian Rokus, Greg Botelho, Joe Sutton and Carma Hassan also contributed to this report. Michael Martinez wrote and reported from Los Angeles.

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