Police officers in Clayton, Missouri told reporters that they had to use force to arrest a woman holding a pumpkin with the word “racism” written on it because they “sensed” that she might smash it outside the St. Louis County Justice Center.
Over the weekend, a group of mostly-white students and agitators rioted at a pumpkin festival in Keene, New Hampshire. Many observers pointed out at the time that their treatment by the media and by law enforcement was much different than what peaceful protesters had faced in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
To highlight that disparity — and to encourage prosecutors to arrest the officer who shot Brown — a small group of activists assembled the St. Louis County Justice Center on Monday holding pumpkins with words like “RACISM” and “WHITE PRIVILEGE.”
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, protest organizer Derek Laney explained why protesters had come to Clayton.
“We are going to smash [pumpkins] symbolically at the foot of someone who can bring [the Brown] case to justice,” Laney said.
With that, Laney tossed his “POLICE BRUTALITY” pumpkin to the ground at the feet of officers who were stationed around the Justice Center perimeter. He was quickly handcuffed, and taken into custody.
A live video stream of the protest recorded by Bassem Masri showed a large officer stopping a woman holding a pumpkin with the word “RACISM” as she stepped forward. Before she could smash the gourd, the officer pulled if from her hands while other officers began to handcuff her.
“That’s theft!” one protester shouted. “Why are you taking her pumpkin for? Why is y’all taking her to jail for?”
“She did not smash a pumpkin! She did not smash a pumpkin!” another protester yelled. “That woman did not smash a pumpkin!”
Within seconds, three officers had picked the woman up and carried her into the Justice Center to be booked.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch identified the woman as activist Elizabeth Vega.
“Clayton Police Chief Kevin Murphy said the demonstrator was charged with assault because police sensed the pumpkin was about to be lobbed in the ‘direction of officers arresting another person,'” the Post-Dispatch reported.
Watch the video below from Bassem Masri, broadcast Oct. 20, 2014.
Watch the video report below from KTVI.