On Aug. 18, 2014, a crowd gathered outside the downtown St. Louis office of Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri. The governor, responding to protests in Ferguson over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, had just activated the National Guard, and the demonstrators outside his office were outraged at what they saw as heavy-handed tactics.
When the police ordered the protesters to leave, nine refused. And so it came to pass that Hedy Epstein, wearing a black T-shirt with the words “Stay Human” printed in white letters, was handcuffed, taken to a nearby substation and charged with “failure to disperse.”
She had turned 90 three days earlier.
“I really didn’t think about being arrested or doing anything like that,” Ms. Epstein told Newsweek after the confrontation in St. Louis. “I was just going to be somebody in the crowd. I guess maybe I was impulsive. Someone said, ‘Who is willing to be arrested if that happens?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m willing.’”
Ms. Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who spoke widely about the persecution of the Jews in Germany, and who spent most of her adult life working for a broad range of social justice movements, died on Thursday at her home in St. Louis. She was 91.
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