Michael Brown Sr. (C) leads a memorial march |REUTERS/Rick Wilking1/4
Michael Brown Sr. (C) leads a memorial march |REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Michael Brown Sr., (R) father of Michael Brow|REUTERS/Rick Wilking2/4
Michael Brown Sr., (R) father of Michael Brow|REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A piece of concrete with "MB" spray painted o|REUTERS/Rick Wilking3/4
A piece of concrete with "MB" spray painted o|REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Ferguson police Sergeant Dominica Fuller pose|REUTERS/Rick Wilking4/4
Ferguson police Sergeant Dominica Fuller pose|REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Several hundred people gathered in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer that sparked protests and a national debate on race and justice.
Some pushed children in strollers as crowds of white, black, old and young people gathered at the spot in this mostly black St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown, 18, was fatally shot on Aug. 9, 2014.
After 4-1/2 minutes of silence to represent the roughly 4-1/2 hours that Brown's body lay in the middle of the street after he was shot, two white doves were released. The crowd then started a silent march to honor Brown and others who have died at the hands of police. Rallies are planned in other cities, including New York.
Brown's shooting sparked months of protests, including incidents of rioting and arson. But it also gave life to a new movement under the “Black Lives Matter” banner that has pushed for better treatment of minorities by police.
Organizers of Sunday's events say their aim is to keep alive a national movement fueled by the police killing of Brown and other unarmed black men in U.S. cities including New York, Cincinnati, Baltimore and North Charleston, South Carolina.
Another name was added to that list on Friday when unarmed 19-year-old Christian Taylor, a black college student, was shot dead by a white police officer in Arlington, Texas.
Arlington police said Taylor was shot as police investigated a burglary at a car dealership in the Dallas-area city. The FBI has been asked to help investigate the shooting.
In Ferguson, a makeshift memorial of teddy bears, candles and flowers has been rebuilt on the quiet residential road where Brown died. A plaque featuring a metallic dove has been installed on the sidewalk a few feet from the spot where Brown died, and the street where Brown's blood pooled has been repaved.
Hazel Bland, 51, who lives in the Canfield Green apartment complex where Brown was killed, said she thinks about the shooting every day.
“It is really sad. You never think this would happen, all these police officers killing all these people. I really hate that it happened,” Bland said as she watched prayer sheets being handed out on Sunday.
At the memorial, Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., wore a T-shirt bearing his son's image and the slogan “Chosen for Change.” Others held “Black Lives Matter” banners and signs calling for justice for those killed by police.
“I hurt every day. But I'm trying to make it uncomfortable to people that think this is OK to do this stuff,” Brown explained to reporters on Saturday.
A federal review found that the officer, Darren Wilson, broke no laws when he shot Brown. But it also determined that the Ferguson police department for years had violated the rights of the city's black population.
Yvette Harris founded the St. Louis-area nonprofit Mothers Against Senseless Killings after her 17-year-old son died in 2001 in a gang-related shooting. She said Brown's death was seen as just one in a long line of killings.
“There are so many killings going on around the country. People are mad, here and everywhere,” said Harris, who is black. “It will be a long time before there is a healing.”
On Saturday night, more than 200 protesters carrying bullhorns, drums and signs demonstrated against police in Ferguson, with some placing the roasted head of a pig on a barricade in front of officers.
But the protests this weekend have so far been largely peaceful with police staying behind barricades and allowing demonstrators to vent their feelings.