The tragic death of Mike Brown inspired this powerful, artful, beautifully-timed protest action against racism and social injustice.
Just after intermission, about 50 people disrupted the St. Louis Symphony’s performance of Brahms Requiem on Saturday night, singing ‘Justice for Mike Brown.’
As symphony conductor Markus Stenz stepped to the podium to begin the second act of German Requiem, one middle-aged African-American man stood up in the middle of the theater and sang, ‘What side are you on friend, what side are you on?’ In an operatic voice, another woman located a few rows away stood up and joined him singing, ‘Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.’ Several more audience members sprinkled throughout the theater and in the balcony rose up and joined in the singing. Those in the balcony lowered white banners about 15 feet long with black spray-painted letters that said, ‘Requiem for Mike Brown 1996-2014’ and ‘Racism lives here,’ with an arrow pointed to a picture of the St. Louis Arch. Another banner said, ‘Rise up and join the movement.’
Stenz stood stoically and listened to the demonstrators’ performance. Some onlookers were outraged and start spewing expletives. Others stood up and started clapping. Most seemed stunned and simply watched. The singing only went on for about two minutes before the demonstrators started chanting, ‘Black lives matter.’ They pulled up their banners and dropped red paper hearts over the edge of the balcony onto the main floor orchestra seats, which stated ‘Requiem for Mike Brown.’ Then they all voluntarily marched out together and left the theater. While they marched out, they received a round of applause from many of the audience members – as well as the musicians on stage….
The St. Louis American tracked down and interviewed the organizer of the event – Sarah Griesbach, 42, a white woman who lives in the Central West End. She said that the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, has opened her eyes to the inequalities that exist in St. Louis. She has been protesting since Brown was shot on Aug. 9.
‘It is my duty and desire to try to reach out and raise that awareness peacefully but also to disrupt the blind state of white St. Louis, particularly among the people who are secure in their blindness,’ Griesbach said.
St. Louis American