NATION

Ferguson protesters hit the streets in sweltering heat

Crowds march in nearly triple-digit heat through streets of Ferguson

After several days of calm, demonstrators in Ferguson continued low-key protests Saturday in near triple-digit temperatures, calling for justice to be served two weeks after the death of Michael Brown in a confrontation with a police officer.

In a midafternoon march organized by the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, demonstrators from Florida to Nebraska walked in unison along a major thoroughfare that just last week saw tear gas and glass bottles being lobbed in scenes of conflict and chaos. 

"The moment I had the free time to get here I was in the car driving," said Gabriel Gutierrez, 26, of Omaha, who wore a gold NAACP shirt. "The ills that black people and Latinos face isn't just happening in Ferguson, it's in Omaha too. ... I wanted to come and show love."

Gutierrez is among a flood of people who have traveled to Ferguson since the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, who was black, by white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.  A preliminary autopsy report found that Wilson had shot Brown six times on the street outside Brown's apartment complex.

While national attention has been drawn to the demonstrations calling for the police to be held accountable, supporters of Wilson have emerged in recent days with events backing the six-year Police Department veteran. 

An online donation drive called "Support Officer Darren Wilson" had raised nearly $300,000 as of Saturday. And at a rally in a St. Louis sports bar, supporters of the officer gathered in unity and have posted selfies on Facebook of with the words, "I am Darren Wilson."

On Wednesday night, a Missouri couple carrying posters that read "Justice for Police Officer Wilson" arrived along West Florissant Avenue as demonstrators marched in honor of Brown. The counter-protests led to dozens of people rushing toward the couple -- some screaming obscenities, which prompted police to help them exit the crowd. 

But for much of the last three days, calm has prevailed as thinning groups have lined the streets demanding justice for Brown, whose funeral will be held Monday at a St. Louis church. 

At Normandy High School, where Brown graduated this month, the varsity football team played its first game of the season Saturday morning. 

"It's a tragedy that Mike is lost," said Calvin Black, whose son plays defensive tackle and knew Brown. "It's a tragedy that this happened to this area. But kids been getting shot like this by police and shooting each other for a long time."

As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, Black's emotions began to well up as he watched Normandy defeat the Lift for Life Academy, 21-8. 

"I'm just glad for this moment we can feel good about something. Because I know there's a lot of pain being felt with the community," he said. 

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