Citizens protesting a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old man in Ferguson, Mo., are expected to gather at San Francisco's Union Square this evening amid throngs of bargain-hunting Black Friday shoppers prior to Macy's annual Great Tree Lighting celebration in the square.
Protesters plan to gather in Union Square at 5 p.m. to demand justice for 18-year-old Michael Brown following a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson for the teen's Aug. 9 death, according to organizers.
Linda Jacobs, a political activist and volunteer with World Can't Wait, which is hosting the protest at Union Square in conjunction with activist groups Occupy Action Council SF and Code Pink, said it's important that people out shopping and “conducting business as usual” hear why protesters' are upset about the grand jury decision.
Jacobs said today's protest will give Black Friday shoppers in San Francisco a chance to hear from protesters about what she called a “national epidemic of police murders,” including Brown's death.
The demonstration will take place on one of the busiest shopping days of the year and is set to start just one hour before Macy's tree lighting ceremony, also at Union Square.
Jacobs said protesters plan to hold up signs and photographs of the victims of police killings.
She said she's not sure how many people will attend, but that she's interested to see how many people will stand by silently and how many will actually “stand up and refuse to live like this.”
Organizers have not scheduled an end time for the protest, which Jacobs said would likely overlap with Macy's holiday ceremony.
Street closures in the area will start around 4 p.m. and the 83-foot-tall tree, decorated with more than 33,000 twinkling energy-efficient LED lights and 1,100 ornaments, will be lit at 6:40 p.m., according to a statement from Macy's.
Musical guests at the celebration are expected to include 12-year-old Quintavious Johnson of America's Got Talent, the San Francisco Boys Chorus, Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon, Tap Dancing Christmas Trees from Alameda and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.
Jacobs said she hopes musicians will refuse to perform and will instead join protesters in their demand to arrest Darren Wilson for Brown's death.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen protesters also demonstrating against the Ferguson grand jury indictment were arrested in Oakland this afternoon after chaining themselves to a BART train at the West Oakland station, according to BART personnel.
The announcement of the grand jury decision on Monday sparked protests nationwide, including in Oakland and San Francisco. More than 100 protesters have been arrested over the past week in Oakland alone, according to police.