News / USA

    Slain Missouri Teen's Funeral Draws Thousands

    Lesley McSpadden reacts at the casket of her son Michael Brown during the funeral services at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, Aug. 25, 2014.
    Lesley McSpadden reacts at the casket of her son Michael Brown during the funeral services at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, Aug. 25, 2014.
    VOA News

    Mourners sang, clapped and danced on Monday at funeral services for Michael Brown, remembering the slain black teenager with words of goodwill and joy rather than the violence and outrage that followed his killing by a white police officer.

    "The mood is festive inside the church as funeral goers celebrate the life of Michael Brown," a VOA reporter at the scene said. "Brown's parents said they feel blessed by the support of th ecommunity who have turned out at their son's funeral. [There were] no demonstrations and calm prevails in Ferguson. "

    Unarmed Brown, 18, was fatally shot by officer Darren Wilson in a confrontation on August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

    Brown's body lay at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in a black and gold casket, topped with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap he was wearing when he was killed on Aug. 9.

    Monday's service was held under heavy police surveillance to guard against renewed violence. Ferguson has been mostly calm in recent days following nearly two weeks of unrest.

     

     

    Pastor Charles Ewing, Brown's uncle, delivered the eulogy during the service.

    "There is a cry being made from the ground - not just for Michael Brown but for the Trayvon Martins, for those children in Sandy Hook elementary school, for the Columbine massacre, for the black on black crime, there is a cry being made, there is a cry being made from the ground," he said.

    A number of national civil rights leaders, politicians and celebrities attended the service at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.

    Reverend Al Sharpton, who delivered remarks, said Michael Brown legacy should not be about rioting, but that he should be remembered as the one who made America face how policing is conducted in the United States.

    "This is about justice. This is about fairness," Sharpton told the audience. "And America is going to have to come to terms, when there's something wrong that we have money to give military equipment to police forces, but we don't have money for training, and money for public education and money to train our children."

    Sharpton said the movement for fair policing cannot be shortsighted.

    "We can't have a fit, we've got to have a movement," he said. "A fit you get mad and run out for a couple of nights. A movement means we've got to be here for the long haul. And turn our chance into change, our demonstration into legislation. We have got to stay on this, so we can stop this."

    In addition to Sharpton, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson was also on hand for the funeral.

    Three White House officials were also in attendance, including Broderick Johnson, head of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, and Marlon Marshall and Heather Foster from the White House Office of Public Engagement.

    Appeal for calm

    Before the funeral, Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., appealed for calm - asking for protests to stop during the service.

    "All I want is peace while my son is laid to rest. Please, please. I'd like a day of silence so we can lay our son to rest. Please. That's all I ask. And, thank you," Brown said.

    • A makeshift memorial was left near the site where unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown was recently shot to death by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. (Gesell Tobias, VOA)
    • A sign in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting death of Michael Brown, Aug. 24, 2014. (Gesell Tobias/VOA)
    • An outpouring of tributes are seen at the site that teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 24, 2014. (Gesell Tobias, VOA)
    • An tribute in honor of teenager Michael Brown who was shot and killed by a police officer, Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 24, 2014. (Gesell Tobias, VOA)
    • A  tribute of flowers and signs are seen at the site that teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 24, 2014. (Gesell Tobias, VOA)
    • A lawn sign shows support for the town of Ferguson, Missouri after teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 24, 2014. (Gesell Tobias, VOA)
    • A woman holds up a tee shirt referring to the shooting of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, Aug, 24, 2014. (Gesell Tobias, VOA)


    Despite a heavy police presence, many demonstrators who have kept steady vigils in Ferguson, where the August 9 incident occurred, honored that request.

    Brown, 18, was just days from starting college when he was fatally shot by officer Darren Wilson.

    Accounts of the incident differ.  Police say Brown was the aggressor during a struggle with Wilson, but witnesses say the shooting was unprovoked and that Brown was trying to surrender. 

    No goodbyes

    Before the funeral, as hundreds of people filed into the modern red-brick church on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in St. Louis, Brown's coffin was surrounded by photos of him as a child, graduating from school and smiling in his Cardinals cap.

    "There are no goodbyes for us, wherever you are you will always be in our hearts," read a sign accompanying one of the photos.

    Gospel music filled the sanctuary as hundreds of people stood inside the church, many dancing, singing and clapping.

    Outside, gatherers sang the civil rights hymn "We Shall Overcome," in a scene markedly different from the violent protests that rocked the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson after Brown was shot to death on Aug. 9.

    Among the hundreds of people waiting outside the church was Travis Jackson, a black, 25-year-old retail store employee who said he took the day off from work to pay his respects.

    "I had to be here. After all the emotions and pain of the past two weeks, this is an important moment for this community," he said. "Today I am focused on peace for Michael Brown. Tomorrow I can think about justice," he added.

    Protests, arrests

    More than 150 people have been arrested in Ferguson since the protests began - most of them for failing to disperse at the request of police.

    Many have complained that the police response to the protests has been heavy-handed, while the shooting itself has raised allegations of institutionalized racism and excessive use of force.

    The incident has highlighted the racial divide in the mostly black town of Ferguson, where almost all police and local politicians are white. 

     A grand jury began hearing evidence on Wednesday, a process  the county prosecutor said could take until mid-October. 

    Related video report by Chris Simkins:

    Slain Missouri Teen's Funeral Draws Thousandsi
    X
    Chris Simkins
    August 26, 2014 5:53 PM
    Thousands of people from across the country gathered Monday in the midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri to say goodbye to the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer during a street confrontation in nearby Ferguson. Differing eyewitnesses accounts touched off days of violent protests, which resulted in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from St. Louis.

    VOA's Chris Simkins contributed to this report from Ferguson, Missouri, some information for this report provided by Reuters.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Robert William from: California
    August 25, 2014 5:15 PM
    The whole indecent incident in Ferguson is about a lot more than racial hatred. It is about the concept of a free society as opposed to an oppressive police state.

    We cannot allow a corrupt "justice" system to function as the enforcement arm of an oligarchy that oppresses the people of the United States.

    The use of feeble excuses, obviously contrived to explain away hate crimes by the police and abuses by the judiciary must end. By whatever means it shall take.

    A good start would be the surrender of all military grade weapons by civil servants, such as police. Also, one of the most meaningful weapons for a law abiding citizenry to use is the ballot box. Do not vote in favor of funding for abusive police agencies, do not return crooked judges, police chiefs etc. to office. Another weapon is jury duty. Don't play the games of a corrupt justice system. Except in severe cases, don't send people to prison on the say-so of a cop. They lie. They are taught to lie and they become good at it.

    Demand accountability and citizen review of police actions at all levels.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora