The Slatest

The Generational Divide Between Ferguson Protesters

Protesters early this morning in St. Louis.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

A Los Angeles Times report on Sunday night’s “Ferguson October” gathering in St. Louis highlights the tension between younger and older activists as demonstrations in the city continue:

The classic civil-rights trope of peaceful resistance has taken an edgier tone among the more dedicated street activists in Ferguson.

As Tef Poe spoke Sunday night, he appeared to be challenging his predecessors in the arena and in the civil rights movement.

“This ain’t your grandparents’ civil rights movement,” he said, remarking that the clergy at Sunday night’s gathering had not done enough in the streets. Those who had his back, he said, were young men with their shirts off and bandannas on, or the girl who should “be in school” but isn’t. “Get off your ass and join us!” he said.

Many younger people at the racially diverse gathering—held in Chaifetz Arena on the St. Louis University campus—said they were upset that the older individuals in attendance had not done enough to support public demonstrations, Times reporter Matt Pearce writes. A speech by the president of the NAACP was poorly received, while audience members demanded that more younger speakers be given time onstage. (Accounts from local TV station KDSK and this activist site echo Pearce’s characterization of the mood at the event.)

“All they want us to do is listen to them speak,” an 18-year-old said afterward. “Well, now it’s our turn.”

More protests are planned today.