The weekend of demonstrations dubbed "FergusonOctober," two months after the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, came to a close with "Moral Monday," during which local and national religious leaders tried to help heal a badly damaged community in the absence of any forward movement on legal fronts.
"My faith compels me to be here," Bishop Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri told the Associated Press. "I want to show solidarity, and call attention to the structural racism of St. Louis."
Over the course of the weekend in which hundreds—and at times thousands—of protesters for the most part demonstrated peacefully, clergy members called on the Ferguson and St. Louis police departments to "repent" for Brown's killing, as well as for other acts of violence and the structural racism that many in the community feel they face. Several of the religious leaders approached individual officers.
"My heart feels that this has been going on too long," Ferguson police officer Ray Nabzdyk told some of those religious leaders. "We all stand in fault because we didn't address this."
Although the U.S. Justice Department has launched a civil-rights investigation into Brown's death and a grand jury is considering charges against Wilson, protesters want him immediately charged and arrested.
"The faith community is standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ferguson in one of the defining civil-rights moments of our generation,” said Rev. Deth Im, a member of the PICO National Network group of faith-based community organizations, in a statement.
Weekend protests were largely peaceful, with some tense moments on Sunday. And arrests remained relatively low over the four days, with a handful of protesters taken into custody outside police headquarters Monday, including activist and academic Cornel West.
"The weekend has been incredible to help re-energize those of us that are here," said Ferguson Democratic Committeewoman Patricia Bynes. "The message is getting out there."
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