Brown remembered in Missouri, march planned
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[August 26, 2014]
By Edward McAllister
ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Family and
supporters of Michael Brown celebrated the life of the black teenager
slain by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in a music-filled
funeral service on Monday ringing with calls for peace and police
Brown's home suburb, which had seen riots since his shooting, was
peaceful after the ceremony and late into the evening, though police
said another demonstration was planned later on Tuesday.
Brown's death on Aug. 9 focused global attention on the state of
race relations in the United States and evoked memories of other
racially-charged cases, including the fatal shooting of black
17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012.
People jammed inside the modern red-brick church and gathered
outside on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in St. Louis for Monday's
The 18-year-old's coffin was surrounded by photos of him as a child,
graduating from school and smiling in his baseball cap.
Spirited gospel music by a choir and horn players filled the
sanctuary, and mourners clapped their hands and danced in the
aisles. Readings from the Bible were met with whoops and cheers.
"It was real spiritual," said Mike Montgomery, a black city employee
who said he took the day off from work to attend.
"I usually hear more mourning at a funeral," said Montgomery, 38. "I
think the family wanted a celebration. That's why they had the
Printed in a program for the service were letters from his parents
to their late son.
A letter by Michael Brown Sr. read: "I always told you I would never
let nothing happen to you and that's what hurts so much, that I
couldn't protect you."
Afterwards, the funeral procession carried Brown's casket to St.
Peter's Cemetery, a few miles from Brown's home, where it was loaded
onto a horse-drawn carriage.
Michael Brown Sr. cried at his son's grave site and let out a scream
before leaving. His mother arrived with a separate group. She laid
her body across his coffin as she wept.
CALL FOR JUSTICE
A grand jury has begun hearing evidence in the shooting and the U.S.
Justice Department has opened its own investigation.
In a eulogy for Brown, civil rights activist Al Sharpton demanded a
fair and impartial investigation into the shooting and an end to
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"Michael Brown does not want to be remembered for riots," Sharpton
said. "He wants to be remembered as the one that made America deal
with how we're going to police in the United States."
He also called on the black community to end the kind of street
violence and looting that cast Ferguson in a negative light.
"We have to be outraged for our disrespect for each other," he said.
"Some of us act like the definition of blackness is how low you can
"Blackness has never been about being a gangster or a thug.
Blackness was no matter how low we was pushed down, we rose up
anyhow," he said.
Outside, under the hot midday sun, the police presence was heavy but
relaxed. Authorities had braced for a possible flare-up, although
clashes between protesters and police have waned significantly in
Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson told a news
conference late on Monday that the evening had passed peacefully. A
march was scheduled for late Tuesday afternoon, Johnson said.
In differing accounts of Brown's shooting, police have said he
struggled with Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed him. But
some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when
he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.
(Additional reporting by Adrees Latif and Carey Gillam; Writing by
Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
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