One of the more surprising aspects of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., following Michael Brown's shooting on Aug. 9 is the cheerful presence of the “Peace Train.”
The train first showed up on Aug. 14, the same night spirits were briefly lifted by the arrival of Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson. "The mood in the street was jubilant," Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery told BuzzFeed.
BuzzFeed's Adam Serwer spoke to the "conductors" and reports that they're Ferguson residents and own an amusement company. They said they brought the train down from Atlantic City.
Alex Bolton from The Hill reported the train played "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye.
The song includes the lyrics, "It makes me wanna holler / And throw up both my hands ... Crime is increasing / Trigger-happy policing."
The song's lyrics and themes echo the common Ferguson protest chant, “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
Rapper Talib Kweli got footage of the train playing Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," a protest anthem with the lyrics, "Picket lines and picket signs / Don't punish me with brutality."
Yamiche Alcindor, who's been reporting from Ferguson for USA Today, captured a Vine of officers asking the train to vacate the protest at one point.
Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times told BuzzFeed, "It was just so bizarre. You'd have people wondering if and when police might hurl tear gas into the crowd, or when things might get out of control, and then you'd just hear this *noise* coming..."
Someone has even started a Twitter account for the train, although it doesn't appear to be controlled by the organizers or conductor.