April V. Taylor
In a shocking display of how starkly the situation in Ferguson, Missouri stands in contrast with the freedoms that many see as foundational American ideals, a 90-year old Holocaust survivor has been arrested protesting the death of Michael Brown. The Huffington Post reports that Hedy Epstein, “who assisted Allied forces in the Nuremberg trials,” was arrested for “failing to disperse,” during a protest regarding Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s decision to deploy the National Guard to quell protests in Ferguson. A group of around 100 people marched through downtown St. Louis to Governor Jay Nixon’s office in the Wainwright Building. When protestors were prevented from entering the building by security, they staged a sit in. Epstein and eight other protesters were arrested for blocking the building’s entrance.
Esptein made a statement to The Nation regarding her arrest stating, “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was ninety…We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re ninety.” Esptein is considered a renowned human rights activist, and her t-shirt perhaps did the best job of communicating this to those who do not know her, stating simply, “Stay Human.”
Many have come to see what is happening in Ferguson as a human rights crisis according to recent reports by The Huffington Post. In more than a week of unrest, protesters and demonstrators have had tear gas, rubber bullets, and LRAD sound technology used against them as they call for justice and an unbiased investigation for Michael Brown who was gunned down in broad daylight by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. For this first time ever, Amnesty International has been deployed on American soil to document human rights abuses and provide aid to protesters.
Epstein has spent her life as an activist after losing all but two of her family members to concentration camps at Auschwitz. Epstein moved to the United States in the late 1940s and settled in St. Louis.