Columbia Protesters take City Hall

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COLUMBIA - Columbia protesters took to city hall Friday afternoon to show their concern about the justice system. 

Most of the protesters were MU students who belong to the group, MU for Mike Brown; however, many others joined who were not a part of the formal group. 

MU student Kelcea Barnes said the demonstration was for anyone who wanted to participate. 

"We weren't any particular organization," Barnes said. "We're just a group of students that care."

Protesting started around 11:30 Friday morning. A group went inside of city hall and lay down representing Michael Brown being shot. Protesters shouted many names in addition to Michael Brown, like Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Aiyana Jones.

MU student Shelby Anderson said she's worried about all human lives, but those who are currently being mistreated are who the group is focusing on. 

"We're not saying no one else matters, we're just saying black lives matter," Anderson said. "We had a 'die in' within city hall, and we dropped and stayed down for about thirty minutes, Michael Brown lay down on the street for about four and half hours."

Twenty people went into city hall for the die in, and fifteen individuals stayed outside of city hall to protest, holding signs signs saying "Black Lives Matter."

Anderson said she's happy the protests were peaceful for bystanders' sake as well.

"We know there are people who don't share our beliefs, but our beliefs keep us going," Anderson said. "We know not everyone will agree, but we can't let them provoke us."

She said their fight for justice isn't an overnight exercise, rather a movement that will take time.

"We keep seeing bigger and bigger crowds come so I think we are being heard," Anderson said. "It takes consistency, it's not a moment, it's a movement. It's not one week and then it's over, we're going to keep going until we get what we deserve."

Barnes was in charge of the social media side of the movement. The protesters used #MUShutDownCityHall throughout the day to voice their concerns on social media, as well as the streets of downtown Columbia.

Barnes said this movement is dear to her heart because of recent news headlines; however, she said she notices a disadvantage because of her skin color.

"There was a day in my family where we had to learn how to approach the police if they approached us," Barnes said. "Most people don't have that, they don't have to worry about that."

She says social media helped organize the movement and showed people what went on at the movement.

"I was really surprised how quickly the hashtag caught on and how quickly information gets out," Barnes said. "Not only using things like GroupMe, using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and show why black and brown lives matter."

The protesters dispersed at Speaker's Circle on MU's campus and said they plan to meet again before the new year and into next year.