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Michael Brown's Father Says Teen's Death 'Opened Eyes of World'

  • VOA News

FILE - Michael Brown Sr., center, leads a memorial march for his son, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 8, 2015.

FILE - Michael Brown Sr., center, leads a memorial march for his son, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 8, 2015.

A few hundred people gathered for a moment of silence on Tuesday at the spot in the central U.S. city of Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown was killed by a police officer two years ago.

Later Tuesday, a few dozen people marched in protest, sometimes blocking traffic and chanting "no justice, no peace." An order to clear the street by police led to a shouting match between the two sides, The Associated Press reported.

Brown, 18, was shot by officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, an incident that led to months of protests, sometimes violent, in Ferguson.

His father, also named Michael Brown, spoke at the memorial Tuesday.

Michael Brown Sr. said the teen's death “opened the eyes of the world” to concerns about law enforcement's treatment of minorities.

"My son built families up, opened the eyes of the world and let people know that this ... this ain't right. It ain't right. It's broke. It's wrong," he said. “This color is not a disease. This color is beautiful. Black is beautiful.”

Local resident Gerry Jasper told Reuters she attended the memorial to support the Brown family.

Jasper said Ferguson has struggled over the past two years but that change must come.

"Some days were really tense, but some people have the right to speak their mind and people have to stop dying," Jasper said.

Brandy Shields, 19, went to school with Brown and remembered him as a kid who “never got into trouble.”

At the memorial service, Shields comforted a young girl who was crying, according to an AP report.

“It'll get better,” Shields told the child. “We have to make it better, but it'll get better.”

In this Nov. 25, 2014 file photo, people watch as stores burn in Ferguson, Mo.

In this Nov. 25, 2014 file photo, people watch as stores burn in Ferguson, Mo.

The fatal police shooting of Michael Brown helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement, which rebukes police treatment of minorities.

The movement has grown following several other killings of black men and boys by police, including the deaths of Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Philando Castile in Minnesota.

The city had been under federal scrutiny since the August 2014 shooting of Brown, who was black and unarmed, by white police officer Darren Wilson.

Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing by the Justice Department in the shooting. A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict him as well.

However, a Justice Department investigation that found patterns of racial bias in Ferguson's police and municipal court system.

In March, the U.S. Justice Department and Ferguson reached an agreement that resolved a lawsuit filed by the federal government against the city over reforming its mostly white police department.

The federal government, alleging a pattern and practice of unconstitutional police conduct, sued the city in February after city leaders voted to change the terms of a deal negotiators had been hashing out for months.

The City Council in the St. Louis suburb approved the agreement, which calls for the hiring of a monitor to ensure that Ferguson follows the requirements.

New diversity training will be instituted for police, software will be purchased, and staff will be hired to analyze records on arrests, use of force and other police matters. All patrol officers, supervisors and jail workers will be outfitted with body cameras.

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