FERGUSON, Mo. — Demonstrators have disrupted business at a large suburban St. Louis shopping mall to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.
At least 200 protesters gathered on one of the busiest shopping days of the year Friday at the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights, about 10 miles south of Ferguson.
Several stores lowered their security doors or locked outside entrances as protests sprawled onto the floor while chanting, “Stop shopping and join the movement.”
It didn’t appear that any arrests were made.
Similar Black Friday protests were occurring at shopping areas in other parts of the country, including elsewhere in the St. Louis region.
Protesters began targeting Black Friday sales at major retailers Thursday night in a new tactic to vent their anger at the grand jury’s decision.
Kicking off their latest strategy inside a Wal-Mart in another nearby suburb of St. Louis, about 75 demonstrators protested peacefully, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot!”, bemusing bargain-hunters pushing their brimming shopping carts.
They dispersed peacefully when ordered by a small group of police, moving on to a Target store where they staged a similar demonstration. More protests were planned for Friday.
Ferguson became a flashpoint for often troubled U.S. race relations after officer Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown on Aug. 9. The U.S. Justice Department is probing possible civil rights abuses, and President Barack Obama has called for reflection on the difficulties minorities face in the country.
The grand jury’s decision on Monday not to charge Wilson prompted a spasm of fury in Ferguson. About a dozen businesses were torched and more than 100 people were arrested in clashes with riot police that rumbled on into Tuesday night.
But Wednesday and Thursday were far quieter, with no major incidents reported.
Before heading in convoy to Wal-Mart late on Thursday, a group of some 100 demonstrators ate Thanksgiving dinner, sang, prayed and discussed their new strategy in the basement of a St. Louis church.
“We are bruised but not broken,” said Cathy Daniels, a woman known to the activists as “Momma Cat” who prepared the food. “We are regrouping. We are not going to take this lying down.”
Ferguson, home to about 21,000 people, is a predominantly black city where almost all the political leaders and police are white.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who declared a state of emergency well ahead of the grand jury being announced, has deployed about 2,200 National Guard troops to the Ferguson area to quell violence.
Wilson, who was placed on administrative leave, has said he feared for his life and was acting in self-defense when he shot Brown. Brown’s family said he acted with malice and that he should stand trial.
Additional reporting by Emily Flitter in Ferguson.