A young man hands roses out to the crowd gathered off West Florissant Avenue during the evening hours of Aug. 19, 2014. (Barrett Emke)
The shooting death of Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9 by officer Darren Wilson set off a firestorm of protests, marches, and more recently, speculation and anger regarding the handling of Brown’s death and autopsy. Ferguson has become the epicenter where the conversation surrounding racial tensions and the extent of police oversight has taken center stage. On Oct. 23, the Department of Justice condemned recently leaked information regarding Brown’s autopsy that suggests Brown was shot at close range and may have been charging at Wilson at the time he was shot, calling the leaks “irresponsible and highly troubling.” And on Friday, Oct. 24, Amnesty International released a report accusing the Ferguson police department of committing human rights violations.
Ahead of November’s announcement on whether a grand jury will indict Wilson for the shooting, photojournalist Barrett Emke was in St. Louis to document what was known as the “Weekend of Resistance,” a weekend of protests in early October that also came on the heels of the shooting death of another St. Louis teenager just days before.
When I returned to St. Louis for the major “Weekend of Resistance” demonstrations, the climate of the movement had seemed to change, or perhaps it was my perception that had been altered. The uncertainty of justice seemed to loom more heavily, more wearily, while the resolve of protesters appeared to have only strengthened, taking on a razor-sharp focus and clarity. I found myself engaging with people from the community and others who had traveled to Ferguson from elsewhere across the United States to show solidarity with the movement. The individuals I photographed seemed to share a common bond, all united in palpable outrage and sadness, yet unified by hope, by demand, for a changed future.
Dontey Carter, a member of Ferguson youth activist group Lost Voices, stands outside the Hip Hop & Resistance concert in St. Louis on Oct. 12, 2014. (Barrett Emke) A woman holds up a sign that reads “Demilitarize the Police” during the National Justice For All March and Rally at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis on Oct. 11, 2014. (Barrett Emke) Arielle Newton of Queens, N.Y., poses for a photo outside the Hip Hop & Resistance concert in St. Louis on Oct. 12, 2014. Newton, 23, and a member of the Rockaway Youth Task Force, traveled to St. Louis for Ferguson October and the Weekend of Resistance, “I am here as a black individual to stand in solidarity and to make sure this moment becomes a movement,” she said. (Barrett Emke) St. Louis rapper and activist Tef Poe leads a march of hundreds through downtown St. Louis to police headquarters on Oct. 11, 2014. (Barrett Emke) Daniyelle Fowler, Nicholas Knowles, and Janae Hamilton stand in downtown St. Louis after a march on Oct. 10, 2014. (Barrett Emke) A young boy looks on at the Michael Brown memorial on Canfield Drive, Oct. 12, 2014. (Barrett Emke) Brandy Shields, 17, a prominent member among youth-led Ferguson activist group Lost Voices, stands in Kiener Plaza after a major march and rally in downtown St. Louis, Oct. 11, 2014. (Barrett Emke) Members of the Missouri National Guard stationed at the top of a hill near a shopping center off West Florissant Avenue, Aug. 20, 2014. (Barrett Emke) Protesters carry a glass, mirrored casket from West Florrisant through the streets to the Ferguson Police Department on the night of Oct. 10, 2014. (Barrett Emke) A police officer in riot gear stands guarding the parking lot at the Ferguson Police Department on the night of Oct. 10, 2014. (Barrett Emke) A protester stands in the rain wearing a shirt with the words “I Am Mike Brown” written upon it on the evening of Aug. 20, 2014. (Barrett Emke) Police arrest a protester on West Florissant Avenue on the evening of Aug. 20, 2014. (Barrett Emke) David Whitt, who lives in the Canfield apartments and is part of a neighborhood organization called Cop Watch, stands off West Florissant on the night of Oct. 10, 2014. (Barrett Emke) Lokey of Ferguson youth activist group Lost Voices stands outside the Ferguson Police Department during protests on the evening of Oct. 11, 2014. (Barrett Emke)