Student assaulted, accused of recording Ferguson protest meeting

MISSOURI — A University of Missouri-St. Louis student who uses an online platform to live-stream protests in Ferguson was hospitalized last week after five or six people threw him out of a church, where protesters had gathered to strategize, and beat him.

The student, Chris Schaefer, began live streaming Ferguson protests and interviews on Oct. 23. But during the protest strategy meeting at St. Mark’s Family Church on Nov. 6, he was not recording, he said in a video from a hospital bed.

“I did nothing wrong,” Schaefer said. “I’ve been a peaceful protester and a peaceful live-streamer.”

Before the meeting started, organizers announced that nobody should record it, said Derrick Robinson, a meeting organizer and pastor of Kingdom Destiny Church. Rev. Tommie Pierson Sr., senior pastor at St. Mark’s Family Church, said he let Robinson use the church for the meeting but didn’t attend.

Schaefer told police five or six people assaulted him at the meeting because they believed he was recording the meeting, said Sgt. Brian Schellman, a St. Louis County Police Department spokesman. Schaefer ran out of the church to a Walgreens about a half mile from the church, where police responded to a 911 call, Schellman said. Police are looking for the suspects.

Schaefer did not respond to email and Twitter requests for an interview. In an interview with a KSDK NewsChannel 5, Schaefer said he didn’t think he would continue to cover the protests.

Robinson apologized to Schaefer in a press conference on Friday.

“This is not who we are,” Robinson said. “Our community deals with behavior and makes sure we uphold our standards.”

SPLC staff writer Anna Schiffbauer can be reached by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 127.