Protesters stormed St. Louis police headquarters on New Year's Eve, shouting and pushing their way inside, only to be met by a line of aggressive police and pepper spray, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Their plan for a sit-in inside the lobby was one of the boldest actions they've taken in five months of protesting. The act suggested that in 2015 the movement won't be going away. The marches, the sit-ins and other demonstrations in the 150 days after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown are the same kinds of actions protesters are planning for the new year. It's a playbook that has puzzled many who aren't sure what the protesters are asking for, how long demonstrations will continue, or even who is leading the charge. That's because while the protesters are drawing on civil rights movements of the past, they are also drafting their own blueprints. Tools such as Twitter have allowed protest organizers to mobilize quickly with no need of a single leader or a centralized message.
Their perspective shows a difference in tactics and generations. While the protesters are of all ages, most are millennials. Many are women. “We're the lost generation,” said Kayla Reed, 24. “It was very necessary that we didn't allow someone who'd done this before to come into this space. Michael Brown was my age bracket.” The movement has remained a decentralized one. Leaders step up and step back. As the new year begins, the Ferguson movement is at a critical juncture. Some organizers want to keep the focus strictly on police brutality. Others want to continue to push other issues like municipal court reform, stronger laws addressing racial profiling and new protocols for how police respond after an officer has fatally shot someone. Brittany Packnett, 30, a key organizer and member of the state-appointed Ferguson Commission, said the two must happen in concert. “Disruptive action has to continue to keep people awake about this,” she said. “Systemic action has to continue to ensure that we move forward. One of those things can't happen without the other.”