If you think looters and arsonists are the only ones protesting ferguson think again

Since a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, didn’t charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown, there have been a lot of violent images and scary news stories on TV and online. But what about the protests that were peaceful?

People from all over the country have been getting together to protest the decision in ways that don’t involve violence or conflict. With all the media attention on Ferguson, it’s easy to forget that peaceful protests are the norm, not the exception.

There are many ways for people to make their opinions about Ferguson known. Here are some of the people who have become known as the faces of peaceful, organised action:

Charlene Carruthers is in charge of the Black Youth Project, or BYP100. This is a group that trains black people between the ages of 18 and 35 to be activists. Carruthers, who is black, queer, and a feminist, said, “We talk about black men, black women, girls, boys, and LGBT people.” “The goal is to free all black people, and for that to happen, we all have to do our part.”

Carruthers planned 28 hours of actions for Tuesday because “a police officer or a vigilante kills a black person every 28 hours.” More than 400 people were expected at the peaceful BYP protests, which start at City Hall in Chicago and the Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in Washington.

“I could have been Michael Brown’s brother. Carruthers said, “He could have been one of my cousins.”

Carruthers started putting together civil actions when he was 18 and going to school at Illinois-Wesleyan University. She said that after 10 years of getting young people to do things, she is sure that young people do the best job. “Every successful movement in the history of the world has had young people at the front. The most radical people are young people. They can think things through well and are ready to take action.”

Rafael Ramirez is a student at Columbia University, but he is taking the year off. Along with Gianni LaTange, a junior at Barnard College, and Nialah Edari, a sophomore at Barnard College, they have organised a national boycott of Black Friday.

“African-Americans in this country have buying power worth several trillion dollars, but we don’t always use it to its full extent,” Ramirez told The Huffington Post. “The court system hasn’t helped us very much. It has failed us many times, and so has the political system. But what has been tried and worked is a movement for economic power. We know that a one-day boycott won’t do much, but it will show that we have power.”

Ramirez said he had never thought of himself as an activist before, but his fraternity at Columbia, Alpha Phi Alpha, where Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall were once members, gave him the idea to become one. “I feel like I have a duty to keep doing that kind of work, and having the support of my brothers has helped a lot.

“Black Friday is the start of a lot of spending without much thought,” Ramirez said. “We want to help businesses that are hurt by things like Michael Brown’s shooting. How we spend money has an effect on our country.”

Ramirez, LaTange, and Edari made a Facebook event and invited more than 100,000 people to join the boycott. More than 9,000 people have said they will attend the event. “Twelve hours after we sent out invitations, we checked again and found that 8,000 people had said yes. Those numbers have been steadily going up.”

Ramirez said that the event was popular because he and his friends were optimistic and because they were good at what they did online. “I don’t know 80,000 people in person, but we’ve been able to reach that many people through Facebook and Twitter, and that’s really cool. The older generation doesn’t see the point in that.”

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