"Which Side Are You On?"

[Content Note: Reference to the killing of Michael Brown.]

Saturday night, protestors interrupted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's concert to raise awareness about police brutality, racism, and the Michael Brown case, and it was beautiful and moving:
The orchestra and chorus were preparing to perform Johannes Brahms' Requiem just after intermission when two audience members in the middle aisle on the main floor began singing an old civil rights tune, "Which Side Are You On?" They soon were joined, in harmony, by other protesters, who stood at seats in various locations on the main floor and in the balcony.

The protesters then unfurled three hand-painted banners and hung them from the Dress Circle boxes. One banner listed the birth and death date of Brown, who was shot by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

The five-minute interruption was met with a smattering of applause from some audience members, as well as members of the orchestra and chorus. Others simply watched as the orchestra remained silent.

The protest ended quietly as participants left voluntarily, chanting, "Black lives matter." Conductor Markus Stenz resumed the concert shortly thereafter.

SLSO publicist Erika Ebsworth-Goold said the protesters were paying members of the audience. She said they left the building peacefully.

Before leaving, the protesters scattered red paper hearts over the edge of the balcony onto the main floor orchestra seats. They read, in part: "Requiem for Mike Brown."

Video Description: A black man and a white woman stand in the audience at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, singing, "Justice for Mike Brown, friends. Justice for Mike Brown. The camera spins around, and another black man and another white woman stand and join them. "Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all. Which side are you on, friends? Which side are you on?" As they continue to sing in harmony, more people around the audience begin to stand and join them.

One sign is unfurled from the balcony: "Requiem for Mike Brown 1996-2014." And then another: "Racism lives here" with a downward pointing arrow at a silhouette of the St. Louis skyline, including the iconic arch.

The camera pans around, showing an increasing number of singers. Some of the audience members applaud. Some look confused. Some look angry. "Which side are you on, friends? Which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all."

Another side is unfurled from the balcony: "Rise up and join the movement" below which is the picture of a rising sun. And a fourth, featuring an image of Michael Brown and the words: "Mike Brown 1996-2014."

There is more applause, from both some audience members and some members of the symphony, on stage. The singing ends, and the protestors chant: "Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter." Paper hearts are dropped from the balcony. Applause. The protestors continue to chant as they leave. "Black lives matter."

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