Editor’s note: This article has been revised and updated to reflect the news of the counter-protest.
GASCONADE COUNTY, Missouri — About 50 activists marching from Ferguson to Jefferson City encountered a hostile counter-protest Wednesday in Rosebud.
About 200 people met the marchers as they reached Rosebud around noon, activists said. A display of fried chicken, a melon and a 40-ounce beer bottle had been placed in the street. A Confederate flag flew. Counter-protestors shouted racial epithets. (Read more about the march on Thursday through Osage County, which was calmer.)
Rhea Willis of Velda City, Missouri, said she saw a boy she estimated to be 8 years old holding a sign that read, "Go home.”
Somebody shot the window out of the back of one of the buses traveling with the march, dubbed by the NAACP as the Journey for Justice. The outer pane of glass broke. The bullet landed in the windowsill, the driver said.
Two of the counter-protesters drove ahead of the Journey for Justice to meet them outside of Mount Sterling, a little less than 20 miles away, their stopping point for the night.
Doug McQuery of Bland, Missouri, wore a T-shirt stating his support for police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August. The grand jury's decision not to indict Wilson sparked protests, both nonviolent and violent across the country.
McQuery said he thought it was fine if activists wanted to burn down their own town, but said he wasn't going to stand for that elsewhere. He said he didn't know the NAACP's march would be peaceful.
Willis was marching with her 15-year-old daughter, Cheyenne Willis, who was taking time off from school to participate. She said she plans to write an editorial based on her experience for her school paper.
"I've been brought up to know how to deal with people like that," Cheyenne Willis said of the counter-protesters. "I ignore them and keep moving forward."
Rhea Willis, who grew up in St. Louis, said she was used to racist attitudes and stereotyping. Racism is learned, she said.
As she marched through Rosebud, she said she felt as if she was facing the same attitudes her parents faced as civil rights activists in the 1960s.
"The comments that we saw are pure ignorance," Willis said.
The marchers collapsed in exhaustion on the floor of the gym at Lincoln University on Wednesday night. They had walked 20 miles that day, about the same distance they've walked every day since Saturday, when the Journey for Justice started at the site of the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr., in Ferguson, according to previous Missourian reporting. About 50 activists marched Wednesday.
The Journey for Justice will continue tomorrow morning from Mount Sterling. Activists plan to march until they reach the Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City, about 20 miles away.
Supervising editor is Landon Woodroof.