A crowd composed of college students, members of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and various other activists rallied on August 16 in protest of the police brutality fueling riots in Ferguson, Mo.

The event was organized on Aug. 14 during a candlelight vigil held in Rochester for Mike Brown, the 18-year-old whose violent death in Ferguson sparked the riots. Police state that Brown was reaching for his gun while eyewitnesses said that Brown was gunned down while his hands were in the air in surrender.

The event has sparked national protests and petitions, including one for a Mike Brown law on whitehouse.gov requiring police to wear video cameras at all times while on the job.

Brian Erway, a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in Rochester, decided to hold the rally on Saturday at noon after groups in St. Louis named August 16 National Day of Solidarity for Brown. He explained that the quick planning resulted in a small but effective turn out.

Approximately 15 people attended the rally. After making signs on site, the group of all ages chanted and waved signs at passerby in peaceful protest. The group walked up and down the streets near Liberty Pole before ending at 2 p.m.

Chants included: “Same story every time, being Black is not a crime!”; “No justice, no peace! No racist police!”; “Protect and serve? That’s a lie! You don’t care when Black kids die!” and “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!”

“It’s important to show solidarity everywhere,” said Elora Pilgrim, a member of the Rochester chapter of the ISO and one of the organizers of the event. “Police Brutality affects the whole country.”

Bystanders in their cars and walking down the street sent cheers or dirty looks toward the protestors. Although cops were seen driving by the protest and in the area, none stopped the protestors or followed them.

“This is a national problem,” said Ream Kidane, one of the protestors, “police departments are getting camo jackets, military vehicles…we’re losing the distinction between military and police.”

“When you militarize the police you turn civilians into combatants,” Pilgrim said at another point in the protest.

As the protest wrapped up, people stepped up to speak. Melanie West, a local Nazareth graduate and member of the ISO, inspired claps from protestors and bystanders alike when she spoke.

“When a country is built on slaves, there is no such thing as fucking justice,” she said.

In an interview, she further explained that there are many ways to create slavery, whether it be through suppressing a working class or through police brutality.

“They have sniper rifles in Missouri right now. Why on earth do [they] need sniper rifles?” she asked.

“What we need is laws in place and to have a conversation about police brutality,” she continued. “If you have snipers pointed towards blacks, then blacks aren’t human.”