As the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra was about to perform Brahms’ “German Requiem” on Saturday night, about 50 activists secretly scattered around the theatre stood in unison to sing something more urgent: a haunting take on the classic civil rights era hymn “Which Side Are You On?” but updated with the lyrics, “Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.”
A banner reading “Racism lives here” was then dropped from the balcony. It’s a message that still needs to be driven home in St. Louis, where protesters have continued demonstrated in the weeks and months following the August 9th murder of Michael Brown.
The action was met with a standing ovation from some and looks of confusion from others. “Black lives matter,” the activists chanted as they exited the theatre. According to a representative of the Symphony orchestra, the demonstration was peaceful, all of the protestors seemed to have purchased tickets to the performance, and no arrests were made.
A more massive series of actions, panels, and public events is planned for this weekend in Ferguson, under the name Ferguson October. “Our country can no longer deny the epidemic of police violence facing Black and Brown communities,” write the organizers. “Mike Brown is now part of a long list of people like John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant and countless others who have been unjustly killed by police. Their lives mattered.”
Watch the Saturday night symphony protest below.