LAS VEGAS (AP) - A group of activists that faced charges last year for writing anti-police messages outside the Las Vegas courthouse has struck again, this time with messages about a police shooting in Ferguson and criticism of the use of force among Las Vegas officers.
Members of the group Sunset Activist Collective and other supporters wrote chalk messages outside Las Vegas police headquarters on Tuesday and outside of the Regional Justice Center on Wednesday. Activists said officers stood by, but did not arrest them.
“They’re still killing people,” said Kelly W. Patterson, a member of the Las Vegas-based collective and a self-described anarchist, in a Friday interview with The Associated Press. “They’re not holding people accountable.”
Police and court officials did not return phone calls seeking comment on Friday.
Messages written on the sidewalk include “Murder: paid vacation (for cops),” ”We need answers” and “Stop holding hands with police. They are not your friend.”
The latter refers to a demonstration held Monday night in Las Vegas, after the announcement that a grand jury would not indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. A group of about 30 officers, community activists and members of the public gathered around the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in North Las Vegas, holding hands during a moment of silence.
“It’s a sham designed to appease people,” said Patterson. He was also critical of Las Vegas’ handling of fatal police shootings, saying a new review process implemented recently is “not an investigation. It’s a formalized cover-up.”
Patterson was one of three members of the collective who were arrested on conspiracy and graffiti charges after a similar chalk protest in July 2013. District Attorney Steve Wolfson dropped charges against them several weeks after their arrests.
The trio filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Las Vegas police in September, seeking unspecified monetary damages and a declaration that protesting on sidewalks is not a crime, but activists said the arrests had a chilling effect and have discouraged others from participating in the efforts.
Participants who did turn out say they went ahead with their demonstration knowing the chalk would wash off.
One of them, 19-year-old Kierra Otis, attends the University of Missouri in Columbia and is home in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving break. She wanted to show solidarity for Ferguson, a town some of her college friends call home.
“I have four black bothers,” Otis said. “I feel like it’s relevant. I feel like I should care.”
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.