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ST. LOUIS — Police used pepper spray on protesters who tried to push their way into City Hall at midday Wednesday during the second day of marching downtown.

The protest began at Kiener Plaza downtown, moved to the Old Courthouse for “mock trials” and headed west toward City Hall, which was closed Wednesday. A line of about 50 police officers in riot gear moved toward them and used pepper spray after some members of the crowd of about 250 tried to enter the building’s south door.

Police Capt. Dan Howard said the action became unlawful when protesters “made contact” with a City Hall security guard. Officers ordered the crowd to disperse.

Police said they arrested three protesters and booked them on a charge of failure to disperse. One of those arrested also was booked on misdemeanor assault of an officer.

“They are just looking for an excuse to hurt people,” said Renee Harris, one of the marchers.

Kayla Reed, one of the march organizers with the Freedom Fighters group, said the crowd was protesting peacefully. Police ordering them off public property “is completely against the rules of engagement,” she said.

The march marked the second day of protests downtown. A march on Tuesday ended with the brief takeover of the elevated interstate highway near the Edward Jones Dome.

Outside the Old Courthouse Wednesday, a young man with a bullhorn led the crowd in mock trials of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the Unified Command and the justice system generally. The crowd quickly found them all guilty.

In the matter of Wilson, who fatally shot Brown on Aug. 9, the man with the bullhorn said, “You all had time to deliberate, right? Would you like to give your verdict?”

People in the racially diverse crowd shouted, “Guilty as sin.”

They marched west to close Tucker Boulevard at Market Street for 41/2 minutes, symbolizing the more than four hours that Brown’s body lay on Canfield Drive after he was shot. City police cars shepherded the march through downtown by blocking traffic as needed.

Then on to City Hall. After police forced them away, they headed back east along Market, where police ordered them to get onto the sidewalks — no longer accommodating any marching in the street. The protesters returned to Kiener for a few chants demanding justice, then called it a day after about 90 minutes.

The plaza is where the protesters started their march, chanting, “This is what democracy looks like,” and carrying signs, including one held by a young white woman saying, “My life changed when I started to listen.”

Rabbi Randy Fleisher, who took part in the march Tuesday, returned Wednesday with his daughter, Zoey, 15.

“A lot of my friends woke up (Tuesday) and realized their lives didn’t matter, and that made me sad,” Zoey said.

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

Maureen Hanlon of St. Louis said so many people are hurting, unsure what to do.

“I don’t know if this is working, but I can’t sit in my house and do nothing,” Hanlon said.

On Tuesday, about 350 protesters gathered at Kiener, marched to the federal courthouse and then to Interstate 44 (formerly Interstate 70) at the dome, where some of them walked up an exit ramp. The highway was closed for about 20 minutes. Police made four arrests during that event.

Sandy Lynn of University City was among many in the crowd on Wednesday who marched both days.

“Hopefully, this will be the last movement needed to make change,” Lynn said of a series of actions by protesters that is expected to continue as shoppers head to shopping centers for Black Friday.

“We don’t want to live in a lawless state,” said Reed, a march organizer. “We want better laws.”

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©2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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GRAPHIC (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194):20141126 Ferguson

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Topics: t000164915,t000002953,t000164911

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