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Tacoma rally lends support to people of Ferguson

Tacoma protesters chanted “Don’t shoot!” and raised their arms in mock surrender Tuesday, in solidarity with counterparts they said couldn’t as freely exercise such rights in Ferguson, Missouri.

More than 100 people joined the Tacoma protest that lined Pacific Avenue near South 21st Street starting about 6 p.m.

They demonstrated in support of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man whose Aug. 9 death by police shooting is being investigated in Ferguson and has prompted violent protest with militarized police intervention there.

Local police said about 8 p.m. that they hadn’t had any trouble with the Tacoma protest, which formed with the help of Facebook.

“We don’t have those restrictions,” said Matthew Wilson, one of the demonstration organizers. “We want them (Ferguson) to know: ‘We hear you, we see you.’ ”

Many drivers honked their approval as they passed along Pacific Avenue.

The officer who shot Brown in Ferguson has said he struggled with him before firing and was afraid for his own life. Brown’s supporters say the victim’s hands were in the air when he was shot.

“You shouldn’t have to be afraid when you’re walking down the street that you’re going to be shot just because you’re black or you’re a minority,” 15-year-old Gabrielle Anderson said. “People are being tear-gassed (in Ferguson) when you’re just standing there protesting.”

She’d been following the events in Ferguson via Twitter and Tumblr mostly.

Anderson stood next to 69-year-old Aviva Lemberger.

“When I was younger and there were civil rights demonstrations, it was the age of desegregation,” Lemberger said. “I didn’t think I’d be out here again, but some things don’t change.”

While the protest was in solidarity with Ferguson, it was also very much about Tacoma for some.

Khalil Duberry, 18, sported a shirt that listed Tacoma’s different neighborhoods.

“It shows a shirt can say: ‘United here,’ ” he said. “We can all stand up for something.”

Even the very young took part.

Kathryn Philbrook joined the protest with 3 1/2-year-old daughter Andrea on her back.

That was part childcare needs, and “partly I think it matters that she’s part of this,” Philbrook said about the response to Brown’s shooting. “I think it is unacceptable that this is happening. It’s a pattern.”

For some, the protest was about the conversations sparked as demonstrators stood side by side.

“People are speaking,” 50-year-old Glenda Turner said. “This is a chance, right here.”

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