Inspired by Ferguson, groups across country hold vigils for victims of police brutality

Communities across the country gathered in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 10.

A crowd gathered at Meridian Hill Park in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Thursday night to honor what organizers describe as victims of police brutality.

Attendees’ signs read “Don’t shoot,” reportedly the last words Brown said before he died.

Other signs read “Film the police” and “Stop the purge of black lives.”

Demonstrators read the names of people of color who have died by police followed by a moment of silence.

Speakers in D.C. urged the group to organize to work for change.

“We cannot surrender ourselves to a system that has never cared,” one woman said to the crowd.

The vigil became a peaceful protest as a group marched from the park to the Smithsonian, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Police drove alongside the protest.

Organizers of the event had been spreading the word through Facebook pages and by using the hashtag #NMOS14 on Twitter.

The event follows a week of protests and unrest after police shot and killed Brown. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.

Protests heated up Wednesday in Ferguson as police used tear gas and smoke bombs against protesters and arrested two reporters.

On Thursday afternoon President Obama called for calm among protesters and police.

“Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson,” Obama said. “Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done.”