of black Ferguson teen appeals for calm at funeral
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[August 25, 2014]
By Nick Carey and Edward McAllister
FERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The father of
Michael Brown, the black teenager who was shot dead by a white police
officer in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 9, appealed for calm as family,
politicians and activists gathered for the funeral on Monday following
weeks of unrest.
The sometimes violent protests have spawned headlines around the
world and have focused attention on racial issues in the United
States. Local police have been criticized for mass arrests and the
use of heavy-handed tactics and military gear.
"All I want tomorrow is peace while we lay our son to rest," Michael
Brown Sr. said at a rally against police violence that he led on
Sunday with civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton.
"Please, that's all I ask," he told the crowd of hundreds, including
the parents of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot dead by a
neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.
Sharpton, who will also attend the funeral, said: "We don't want
anything tomorrow that will defile Michael Brown's name."
Authorities remained braced for a possible flare-up around the
funeral, although clashes between protesters and police had
significantly decreased by midweek and the National Guard began a
gradual withdrawal from the St. Louis suburb on Friday.
The White House said it was sending three presidential aides to the
service at a St. Louis Baptist church and a large turnout was
expected both inside and outside.
Hours before the 10 a.m. funeral, rights leader Reverend Jesse
Jackson told Reuters: "I think people will be under control. I think
people will leave ... feeling inspired."
"Ferguson is a part of a bigger national urban cancer. This crisis
is a metaphor for the urban American crisis," he said.
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On Sunday evening, only a handful of people gathered at the site of
the recent protests, greatly outnumbered by a visible but
unobtrusive police presence.
Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," Democratic Representative Lacy
Clay of Missouri, who is slated to speak at the funeral, said he had
promised Brown's parents he would push for a transparent
investigation into his death.
"I'm more concerned that if we do not get to the truth and get to
what actually happened and bring justice to this situation, then
there’s going to be a problem in the streets," he said.
A grand jury began hearing evidence on Wednesday, a process the
county prosecutor said could take until mid-October.
"The real question is how quickly the killer has to pay the price,"
Jackson said early on Monday.
(Editing by Chris Michaud and Louise Ireland)
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