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Prosecutors charge man who drove his car into group protesting transgender woman's death

People gather at the Transgender Memorial Garden to honor Kenneth "Kiwi" Herring.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio
People gather at the Transgender Memorial Garden to honor Kenneth "Kiwi" Herring.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. with information on charges against the driver — The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office has issued warrants against a St. Louis man who drove his car into a group of people protesting the fatal police shooting of a transgender woman.

Prosecutors filed warrants against Mark Colao for resisting arrest/detention/stop by fleeing, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.
Authorities say Colao, 59, tried to drive his car late Wednesday around people who blocked traffic at Manchester Avenue and Sarah Street. The marchers had just left a vigil for Kenneth "Kiwi" Herring, who was shot by police on Tuesday.


After they held a moment of silence in memory of Herring, LGBTQ activists and others began walking down South Vandeventer Avenue, when Colao tried to drive through the crowd. Protesters surrounded the car and began striking it with their hands and a flag pole and some jumped on top of it.

Police say Colao drove forward through the marchers, pushing thecar into three of them, causing them to fall from the car. They suffered minor injuries.

Police stopped the car a block away took him into custody.

People on the street took photos and video of the incident and posted them on social media and police say an investigation is ongoing. St. Louis Mayor LydaKrewson tweeted in response that drivers should exercise patience when protesters are in the road.

The vigil began with song as a vigil at 7 p.m., Wednesday, at the Transgender Memorial Garden, where members of the LGBTQ community and allies gathered to remember Herring, who two officers fatally shot Tuesday while they were investigating reports of a stabbing at Herring’s apartment building in the 5200 block of Ridge Avenue, in the West End neighborhood of St. Louis.

According to police reports, two officers fired their weapons at Herring Tuesday morning after Herring swung a knife at one of them, cutting the officer on his arm.

Police took Herring’s partner, Kristy “Kristopher” Thompson, into custody.

At Wednesday’s vigil, more than 50 people held a moment of silence in honor of Herring.  Several expressed sadness at Herring’s death and also criticized how police responded to the apartment. They also highlighted the fact that transgender women of color face higher levels of violence that one report describes as “pervasive.”

Speakers also called on each other and allies to continue drawing attention to Herring’s death and honor the lives of transgender women of color.

Writer Joss Barton spoke at the event and later said Herring’s death is part of a continuum of violence suffered by transgender people of color. Barton hopes that highlighting Herring’s death will spark public awareness of the dangers transgender people face.

“Hopefully these incidents spur a wider conversation and wider movement that incorporate not just the trans people of color and the trans women in particular  — who have been doing this work for so long —  but includes people that are not being surveilled, are not being arrested, that don’t face the crippling poverty and abuse and discrimination that trans people and trans women of color face in this country,” Barton said.

Donations sought

The Metro Trans Umbrella Group and others are hosting a fundraising campaign to help support Herring’s family.  Donations are intended to help with funeral costs as well as provide support for Herring’s three children, partner and sister as they grieve.

According to the group’s fundraising page, all donations will go directly to Herring’s sister and partner.

Follow Willis on Twitter: @WillisRArnold