Demonstrators against police brutality took advantage of the busiest holiday shopping day of the year by staging a “die-in” at the Easton mall in Columbus on December 20, the Saturday before Christmas. Sixty or so activists gathered in the Easton mall food court, unfurled a banner proclaiming “Black Lives Matter,” and struck death poses on the floor.

Columbus police and mall security were there in large numbers, but a legal observer overheard orders to the police to “stand down.” Twenty to thirty bystanders, mostly young black adults, joined the demonstration. After a brief die-in, the demonstrators moved close to the AMC theatre area and proceeded to sing and chant: “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” and “Black Lives Matter!”

The group marched outside and overwhelmed the holiday musicians with their own musical performance. They also chanted “Hands up! Don’t shoot” and “This is what democracy looks like!”

Back inside the mall, one demonstrator gave a speech to the crowd about how the community was no longer going to tolerate racist police killings. Hundreds of shoppers stopped holiday consumption to record the events on their cellphone cameras.

Back outside the group staged another die-in and a woman sang a stunning version of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” the epic song on black lynchings in the South.

Sam Gresham, former director of the Columbus Urban League, was one of the oldest members there, and he announced that this was the beginning of a “third wave” of the civil rights movement. “All of these young people being involved guarantees that this movement won’t stop,” Gresham told the Free Press.

The next day, about 40 demonstrators met at Moore Park by the King Arts Complex on the near east side and marched to the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) office at Long Street and Hamilton Avenue. The march included drumming, jingle bells, and a large banner bearing the names of young black people recently killed by police. The marchers shouted familiar chants, like “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and “No justice, no peace!”

At the IAB office, there was a candlelight vigil and silence while the names of blacks killed by police since the 1978 were read aloud. The IAB, which is reported to be open 24 hours a day, was locked and no one answered the door when the group approached.

At the finale of the rally, the demonstrators tied the banner to the doors of the IA office, left a Christmas gift of a bag of coal, and a Christmas card including a reminder of their demands for changes in police behavior.

Demonstrators pledge further action before the end of the year.