Christina Gardner, The Black Bear – Vonderrit Myers, 18, was fatally shot by an off-duty police officer in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis on Oct. 8. Tensions have mounted among members of the St. Louis community and the police force. Members of the Missouri State community who were part of protests found themselves engulfed in the midst of the tension.
During the night of Oct. 9, protesters and clergy gathered in the Shaw neighborhood to voice their opinions, pay respect, pray and gain information regarding the shooting.
Robert Colyer, junior and political science major, was present at the demonstration and documented a great deal of his experiences at the protests on social media. He describes why he feels the police are the problem in all of this.
“Vonderrit is a victim just like Mike Brown. He’s one of the people we’re fighting for,” Colyer said in reference to the shooting of the unarmed African-American teen in Ferguson in August.
While at the demonstration, Colyer said he was witness to police, many of whom they said were not wearing identification, using pepper spray and physical aggression on peaceful, nonthreatening protesters.
Colyer said one woman told the police that she was just there to pray. He says the police then told the woman they didn’t care. He recalls that an officer then pushed the woman with his shield.
He went on to say that as the crowd started chanting saying ‘don’t kill us because we’re black,’ the police blatantly laughed at them.
“It’s hard to sympathize with people who have no sympathy. They have no hearts,” Coyler said in reference to the law enforcement. “It’s not the people who are the problem. It’s the police.”
According to St. Louis Metropolitan Chief of police, Sam Dotson, Vonderrit and two other African-American males were drawn to the attention of an off duty officer at around 7:30 p.m Oct. 8.
When the officer turned around in his vehicle to approach the young men, they started to run. The officer then pursued him through many streets.
According to the chief the officer then left his car, and after chasing after the young men on foot, Myers starting coming towards the off duty officer aggressively. The two then started fighting. Myers retreated and ran up a near by hill.
The chief says that, the officer then noticed that Myers had a nine-millimeter handgun. He says Myers then turned and fired shots at the police officer. The officer then proceeded to fire 17 shots at Myers.
According to St. Louis city Medical Examiner, Michael Graham seven to eight of those bullets actually penetrated Myers.
Though the chief of police seems to be very confident that the Myers had been armed. Members of the community and Myers’ family tell a different story.
Fox 2 News reports that a family spokesperson said Myers was armed with a sandwich he bought at a nearby market just minutes before the shooting. An employee at the market willingly gave the store’s surveillance video of Myers to the media. This employee says Myers was unarmed.
The demonstrations during the weekend of Oct. 10 were a part of a “weekend of resistance” that thousands of people brought attention to on social media using the hashtag #FergusonOctober.