Marchers endure counter-protest in Rosebud

'We've received far more support than we've seen negativity'

Ronald Studdard, of Leslie, and residents from Gasconade and Franklin counties halt the progress late Wednesday morning of two chartered buses supporting the NAACP march from Ferguson to Jefferson City by blocking U.S. 50 on the eastern end of Rosebud, Mo. Studdard said he was angry because his elderly mother lives in Ferguson and was afraid to venture out because of the turmoil there.

More than halfway through their journey to the Capital City, marchers on a 120-mile journey from Ferguson were met with opposition Wednesday as they journeyed through Mid-Missouri.

The march, "Journey for Justice: Ferguson to Jefferson City," started Saturday in response to the St. Louis County grand jury's decision not to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown Jr.

The marchers left their route at the end of the day and arrived by bus after 7 p.m. on the Lincoln University campus where they ate and got some sleep before heading back this morning to resume their walk to Jefferson City for a rally planned for Friday.

But, the marchers say, it has become a bigger cause than Brown's death.

"We live in a violent society, and it's disgusting what humans are doing to humans," said Krystina Poludnikiewicz of Toronto. "This is the civil rights movement. People see this as an independent issue, but it's not. It's not about Mike Brown and the non-indictment. This is about the whole system being corrupt, and it favors those who have money, and it completely oppresses people of color."

The group has been coming down U.S. 50 since Saturday. But on Wednesday, they were met by a group of people who shut down the highway in Rosebud for a few minutes, holding signs saying "Go home, NAACP" and others with more threatening tones.

"The truth is, we've received far more support than we've seen negativity," Poludnikiewicz said. "I'm not surprised because every human heart contains goodness. Even those people shouting that we should go home and get a job or get off welfare, even they have children they love, and I know that goodness exists."

Andrew McFadden Ketchum came from Denver to join the marchers on a whim and said it has become an "amazing experience."

"There's a lot of love here," he said. "I was surprised at what I saw in Rosebud. It was so quiet when we went in and then bang, the noise started."

Ketchum posted a video to YouTube, which shows the group walking through the small Gasconade County town. Residents are seen standing along the highway quietly until the group approaches the center of town where some members of the crowd begin yelling.

Someone can be heard shouting, "No peace, no welfare checks!"

"All this for a thug and a thief," shouts another resident in an apparent reference to Michael Brown.

At one point in the video, a man yells out, "Who wants barbecue?" and the marcher's camera pans to a point on the pavement where an unknown person had placed a box of chicken, an upright empty bottle of beer, a melon and scattered chicken bones.

Two local law enforcement officers are seen facing the local residents, positioned between them and the marchers.

The NAACP organizers had told marchers not to engage in conversation with counter-protesters, and they followed that direction.

Poludnikiewicz said many counter-protesters told marchers they had lost people along the way, but actually the group was trying to make up time for various reasons so they had the fastest people going six to six-and-a-half miles in under an hour and thirty minutes.

"It was essentially sprint walking," she said. "We held tight because this is for everyone."

Jefferson City police have been told the marchers will arrive about noon Friday at the eastern city limits of US 50 East. At 3 p.m., they will march to the Capitol and stay for approximately one hour.

Authorities added this should not conflict with the downtown Living Windows event to be held Friday evening.

"I'm marching all the way," said McFadden Ketchum. "I just don't know how I'm going to leave when we're done and go back to my wife because we've become such a family."


The Columbia Missourian reports ( that the back window of a bus traveling with the marchers was broken by a bullet.

Gasconade County Sheriff Randy Esphorst subsequently issued this statement to the press: "Late Wednesday evening, information surfaced that indicated there was damage to a bus that may have occurred during the transit through Gasconade County. No official report has been received from the bus company or march organizers that would indicate this information is correct. In the event the Sheriff's Office receives credible information to support any type crime may have been committed, it will be investigated."

Earlier coverage:

NAACP march expected to arrive in Jefferson City on Friday