As clashes between police and protesters intensified over the past week in Ferguson, MO, surrounding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, dozens of people, including a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, have been arrested.
Hedy Epstein, who was born in Freiburg, Germany and escaped to England at age 14, was arrested yesterday afternoon in downtown St. Louis for “failure to disperse,” KMOV reported.
“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90,” Epstein told The Nation. She was handcuffed after linking arms with eight other demonstrators in front of St Louis’ Wainwright Building, which houses state offices including Governor Jay Nixon’s.
Epstein, who worked on the Nuremberg Medical Trial in 1946-47 and is a docent at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, has long been a vocal political activist. Much of her work has been directed towards pro-Palestinian causes; she is the founder of the antiwar group Code Pink, whose recent campaigns include boycotts against SodaStream and Ahava for operating on occupied territory. In 2009, she participated in the Gaza Freedom March in Cairo, and in 2011 she was involved in an ultimately aborted American flotilla that planned to break Israel’s maritime blockade on Gaza.
Another 31 people were arrested in Ferguson last night as police reported “heavy gunfire” from protesters, according to the Washington Post. Nearly a dozen journalists have been arrested as Governor Nixon declared a state of emergency this weekend, imposed a curfew in the area, and called in the National Guard yesterday.
Widespread unrest broke out after the police shooting of Brown on August 9 in the St. Louis suburb. A preliminary private autopsy on Sunday found that Brown, who was unarmed, was shot at least six times. Police say there was a physical struggle between Brown and Officer Darren Wilson over the officer’s gun.
“We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90,” Epstein told The Nation.
Epstein returned to Germany after World War II to work for the American government and attempt to locate her family. While she was able to escape Germany on a children’s transport to England in 1939, her parents were sent to a concentration camp one year later in Vichy France.
According to Epstein’s personal website, through an “aberration of war” her parents were able to send her letters and did so “for the next two years, but they were careful not to mention the atrocious living conditions they had to endure.” In 1942, Epstein’s surviving family was sent to Auschwitz, and were never heard from again.
Adam Janofsky is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, where he was editor of the student newspaper, The Chicago Maroon. He has worked and written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, and The Bangkok Post. Follow him on Twitter @adamjanofsky.
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