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Mourners urge black Americans to take action

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri Funeral

Pictures of Michael Brown flank his casket during his funeral, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer on Aug. 9. The more than two weeks since Brown's death have been marked by nightly protests, some violent and chaotic, although tensions have eased in recent days. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post Dispatch, Robert Cohen, Pool)

By
August 26, 2014 |

ST. LOUIS — The mourners filled an enormous church to remember Michael Brown — a “gentle giant,” aspiring rapper and recent high school graduate on his way to a technical college.

But the funeral that unfolded Monday was about much more than the black 18-year-old who lay in the closed casket after being shot to death by a white police officer. The emotional service sought to consecrate Brown’s death as another in the long history of the civil rights movement and implored black Americans to change their protest chants into legislation and law.

“Show up at the voting booths. Let your voices be heard, and let everyone know that we have had enough of all of this,” said Eric Davis, one of Brown’s cousins.

The Rev. Al Sharpton called for a movement to clean up police forces and the communities they serve.

“We’re not anti-police. We respect police. But those police that are wrong need to be dealt with just like those in our community that are wrong need to be dealt with,” Sharpton said.

Two uncles recalled how Brown had once predicted that someday the whole world would know his name.

“He did not know he was offering up a divine prophecy,” Bernard Ewing said.

More than 4,500 mourners filled Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis for the service, which at times seemed like a cross between a gospel revival and a rock concert. It began with upbeat music punctuated by clapping. Some mourners danced in place.

The crowd included the parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old African-American fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, along with a cousin of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old murdered by several white men while visiting Mississippi in 1955. Till’s killing galvanized the civil rights movement.

Also in attendance were several White House aides, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, moviemaker Spike Lee, entertainer Sean Combs and some children of Martin Luther King.

The Rev. Charles Ewing, the uncle who delivered the eulogy, said Brown “prophetically spoke his demise.” And now his blood is “crying from the ground. Crying for vengeance. Crying for justice.”

Poster-size photos of Brown, wearing headphones, were on each side of the casket, which had a St. Louis Cardinals ball cap atop it. Large projection screens showed a photo of him clutching his high school diploma while wearing a cap and gown. Two days after his death, he had been scheduled to start training to become a heating and air conditioning technician.

Sharpton also took the black community to task, saying it should be as upset about black-on-black crime as it is about police violence: “We have to be outraged by our disrespect for each other.”

“Blackness,” he added, “has never been about being a gangster or a thug.”

Money and possessions prestige mean little, he said, “if we can’t protect a child walking down the street in Ferguson and protect him and bring justice.”

Brown’s death fueled nearly two weeks of street protests in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. But his father, Michael Brown Sr., asked protesters to observe a “day of silence” Monday to let the family grieve.

The request appeared to be honored. At the Ferguson Police Department, where a small but steady group of protesters have stood vigil for two weeks, a handmade sign announced a “break for funeral.” On Monday afternoon, the West Florissant Avenue commercial corridor was also devoid of protesters, whose ranks have typically swelled as days turned to nights.

After the service, Corey Thomas, a 34-year-old St. Louis man said the large crowd at the church reflected “that people are tired of being treated like dogs. They’re tired of being taken advantage of.”

The mourners came to show their support because “it could be any one of us,” Thomas said.

Angela Pierre, a machine operator who once lived in Ferguson, said she hopes the funeral helps turn a page and eases tensions. Most important, though, she hopes it provides healing for Brown’s family.

“I really wanted to just be here today to pray for the family and pray for peace,” said Pierre, 48, who is black. “When all of this dies down, there’s still a mother, father and a family who’s lost someone. Sometimes a lot of the unrest takes away from that.”

Brown was unarmed when he was shot Aug. 9 by officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury is considering evidence in the case, and a federal investigation is also underway.

Police have said a scuffle broke out after Wilson told Brown and a friend to move out of the street and onto a sidewalk. Police said Wilson was pushed into his squad car and physically assaulted. Some witnesses have reported seeing Brown’s arms in the air in an act of surrender. An autopsy found Brown was shot at least six times.

Relatives denounced a video released by police, who say it shows Brown snatching cigars from a convenience store just before he was killed. In the video, the person said to be Brown is seen grabbing a clerk by the shirt and forcefully pushing him into a display rack.

Family and friends said Brown had a gentle, joking manner and dubbed himself “Big Mike.” He was good at fixing things, liked computer games, the rappers Lil Wayne and Drake, the movie “Grown Ups 2,” and the TV show “Family Guy.”

Monday also marked the first day back at school for students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Classes had been scheduled to begin Aug. 14 but were postponed because of safety concerns.

“We’re ready to move forward,” said Marcus Baker, a junior at McCluer South-Berkeley High School. “But we’re still going to remember him.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 17 comments

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  • Ulises S. GuberAugust 26, 2014 - 1:28 am

    all that hate toward the police, lets all forget that this guy just violently robed a store and came at the cop smashing the cop in the face with his head and that the cop shot to stop him no no no you all just keep saying all the cops are full of hate, you know like the hate you all are full of

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tax PayerAugust 26, 2014 - 6:57 am

    But wait they say he was a "gentle giant". Unless he wanted something he didn't want to pay for this is!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/20/missouri-cop-was-badly-beaten-before-shooting-michael-brown-says-source/August 26, 2014 - 7:49 am

    Michael Brown may or may not have deserved being shot, tased maybe, if the Officer carries a taser, but a, "Gentle Giant," PLEEEEEEEEEEEEESE. What is also not mentioned in this article (Name,) that Brown just strong armed the store clerk, tossing the clerk into a counter or something, before leaving with that box of cigars. Maybe what the mourners should be talking about is teaching some of their people about proper character, respect for society, and the law!!!!!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • John AndersonAugust 26, 2014 - 12:05 pm

    I hope that all cops will be made to wear cameras that record every action, every sound. This is 2014, why not? Lord- everything is recorded these days. That way, when things like this happen- as they increasingly will- there will be video evidence showing exactly what went down. This particular case is full of speculation. The media is throwing gasoline on the fire, to boot. We may never know what REALLY went down. Let's end this in the future- VIDEO evidence! ........You'd think the police would DEMAND it!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • truth'nAugust 26, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    I wish all those who rioted and looted would have been of better mind and civic thought to have helped Michael Brown **before** all of this happened. Where were they when he was alive and needed some guidance to assist him in living up to his potential? Where were they when he was developing a juvenile record? Where were they when he did not graduate with his class and still needed credits? When one waits until someone is dead, they are part of the problem, not the solution.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 26, 2014 - 2:25 pm

    Good point. It takes a community to raise a child, especially under disadvantaged circumstances. Family and friends failed Michael Brown. That message hasn't been lost. There have been many follow-up stories on leaders using this "teaching moment" for others.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • General Fadi BasemAugust 26, 2014 - 3:32 pm

    So give us some of the links, please.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 26, 2014 - 5:04 pm

    There's Kelvin Wade's column last week for starters.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick Wood. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/at-browns-impoverished-high-school-students-try-to-make-gains-against-odds/2014/08/25/d8a33842-2b98-11e4-994d-202962a9150c_story.html?wpmk=MK0000205August 26, 2014 - 5:10 pm

    Then there's this excellent backstory piece from WAPO.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 26, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    Note the football coach.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 26, 2014 - 6:21 pm

    Wouldn't you be generally POed at the state if you were in that school district? Mightn't you relate it to racial discrimination and suppression? Remember, Missouri is effectively a southern state controlled by a conservative white majority. This stuff goes way back and runs deep.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 26, 2014 - 6:39 pm

    And there is Deon Price's column last week too. Just imagine how many local columnists around the country have written for this teaching moment if we've had at least two in the DR already.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • truth'nAugust 26, 2014 - 1:07 pm

    AP LIE: "" In the video, the person said to be Brown is seen grabbing a clerk by the shirt and forcefully pushing him into a display rack."" The video shows the clerk being Violently grabbed by the Neck.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • What's this aboutAugust 26, 2014 - 3:38 pm

    Blah, blah, blah, blah!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboAugust 26, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    Some people apparently prefer their so-called 'justice' by means of vigilante police. All this trying to look the other way just says these people have no expectation to holding the police accountable for any of these killings of unarmed Americans and weeding out any bad cops. Apparently as long as the killings suits their hidden personal agenda you are supposed to be quiet too.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksAugust 26, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    "Sharpton also took the black community to task, saying it should be as upset about black-on-black crime as it is about police violence: “We have to be outraged by our disrespect for each other.” Boom. If Al ever said anything worth listening to, that was it. Heed the message.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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