St. Louis University students resting before midterm exams were awakened by the sound of more than a thousand voices outside their dorm windows late Sunday night, as protesters peacefully entered the campus and began an occupation.
Following a moment of silence for Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers Jr, protest leader Dhoruba Shakur took the microphone and announced the beginning of an occupation of the university.
"I know this was a college a couple of hours ago, but as of right now, this is our spot, and we're not going nowhere," Shakur said. "This is the city's. This is our land; everybody get comfortable."
The occupation was the culmination of a carefully orchestrated march in support of teenagers Brown and Myers Jr., both of whom were killed by police officers.
First, an intersection was shut down by demonstrators playing a massive game of hopscotch and other games, a play on one of the most popular refrains from the protests: "They think it's a game, they think it's a joke." At that point the group split in two, taking different routes to reach the campus and to throw police off guard.
Protesters on one side, walking through the Shaw neighborhood of the city, were asked to stay on the sidewalk and not to make any noise. The group was met by police dressed in full riot gear who blocked a bridge.
"This is an unlawful assembly," an officer warned.
"No! This is a peaceful group of people walking on the sidewalk," the protesters answered.
Police ceded the sidewalk within minutes and allowed the protesters to pass. A second group of protesters met them on the opposite side of the bridge.
Suddenly, Harvard professor and activist Cornel West arrived to cheers, hours after exclaiming "I didn't come here to give a speech, I came here to go to jail."
West and protesters continued on to the gates of the St. Louis University. An organizer was heard shouting to campus security "I am a student, I have my ID, and I have a lot of guests." Security quickly made way for the 1,000-plus protesters to enter the campus.
On campus, protesters started chanting "out of the dorms and into the streets," prompting many students to come outside.
Myers Jr.'s father took the stage to thank demonstrators for supporting his family. "This let me know that my son was loved, and that he is still loved," he said. Myers Sr. thanked security for letting the crowd in, saying that "I am an employee of this school, and I can pull out my badge as well."
All photos by Daniel Rivero for Fusion
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.